Keep it Personal

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October 23, 2014 by rayanardati

As many issues discussed on the blog revolve around privacy and ethics I decided to conduct an interview that carried these as its core subjects. The interviewee, Maha Ardati, is 21 years of age; placing her in the biggest age group to use technology. She is also a frequent user of the phone and Internet, making her opinion on data collection and the privacy that revolves around it a relevant source of insight.

According to the Australian Government’s Privacy Act, personal data is ‘information or an opinion…about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion’ (Australian Law Reform Commission, Privacy Act 1988). This is meant to mean that personal data is basically revealing our identity, whether or not this is comfortable for some people to openly provide for the public is another matter. As discussing the issue of personal information, first off she was asked whether she felt like she ‘owned’ her own personal data, responding with ‘technically…it is mine, however once online…anyone can use it.” She explained how the basic information about her age and occupation being exposed did not really bother her but it was the other information that people could conclude from that which made her feel ‘uneasy’.

Access to our private information online is seen as the equivalent to the invasion of our private home by Miss Ardati and a ‘warrant’ of some sort has been suggested as a grant of permission before law enforcements can access our private information. This is a clever idea as Internet users wish to have a choice in the matter of their data collected. The issue of privacy breach is seen as ‘very serious’ and the problem of ID theft is a ‘major one’ in the opinion of Maha and she fears it will only increase in the future. However, this is obviously not enough as the numbers of privacy breaches are intensifying. Maha explained how the laws in place at the moment are clearly not strong enough as privacy breaches of ‘different types of data such as personal information and private photos have been stolen from many individuals and the most obvious examples are that of celebrities.’

Her opinion on the future and the issue of privacy invasion was discussed and she responded with the thought that the amount of data people have access to will increase as ‘the information online is growing at a phenomenal speed and as is the technology available to people’. This was supported with the reflection of the number of privacy breaches we have seen today and ‘stronger security and laws should be put into place to protect individuals’.

All these factors begin to raise questions such as what exactly is ‘personal’ to us and only us? As seen through the insight collected from the interview of a daily user of these technologies, the seriousness of these concerns can be revealed. Miss Ardati explains how she is ‘now much more conscious about how she uses social networks and what information she uploads’, which is interesting because it suggests that many and maybe even majority of online users are not aware of the extent of data their actions can provide.

Australian Law Reform Commission, Privacy Act 1988, viewed 10th October 2014 <http://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/6.%20The%20Privacy%20Act%3A%20Some%20Important%20Definitions/what-‘personal-information’&gt;

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