How Photos & Data Collecting Take Away Our Privacy

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 6.54.28 PM

A bank of computers in a data center. Via Pixabay.

Finding good resources to help young people learn and understand more about data and photo collecting is key to building strong citizens in our 21st Century digital world. We adults can also learn a lot in the process.

Interestingly, no matter how we set privacy settings (stipulating who can see our images), the sites where we post and share continually  accumulate information about us  — much, but not all, gleaned from the photos themselves.  Yes, it’s about digital footprints, but it’s much bigger than that.

One article we should read is Why Photos Are The Next Big Battleground in the Fight for Privacy, over at The Next Web news site. The report is chock full of interesting information about big data and how it zeros in on our photos. It also includes sobering statistics about the number of pictures that people share in sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Google. It’s good information to share with the digital kids in your family or school. The article explains how software and big data are increasingly able to read the pictures we put online, figuring out a lot about us —  where we take photos, what we’re doing, what we like, and much more. Also included are extensive quotes from Google’s terms of use. Techniques, including data-mining and facial recognition, can discover much more about our preferences, our emotions, our locations (even with location turned off). The author,  ,writes:

Deep machine learning can now locate you with nothing more than just the pixels in a photograph, no GPS requiredno landmarks required, as proven by an initial set of results from early research at Google. 

Another interesting quote from Dudum’s piece.

Despite the National Telecommunications and Information Administration creating a voluntary code for mobile apps around privacy, they failed to do so around facial recognition related to commercialization.

Read the entire article to learn much more, and especially check out the Google statements about the rights we give to the company when we upload our photos.

book-dg3-150wThen head over to the Christian Science Monitor site where the article How Google Photos Uses Machine Learning to Create Customized Albums explains how Google can automatically group photos into relevant albums, even identifying relevant landmarks even without the geotagging turned on (mine is always off).

And over at the, Schneider on Security blog, Bruce Schneier wrote  The Internet of Things that Talk About You Behind Your Back, also describing how much data is collected behind our backs. He writes:

Surveillance is the business model of the Internet, and the more these companies know about the intimate details of your life, the more they can profit from it. Already there are dozens of companies that secretly spy on you as you browse the Internet, connecting your behavior on different sites and using that information to target advertisements.

Schneier has written a fascinating book, Data and Goliath, that offers privacy protection tips and explains how the digital world might be changed is ways that decrease the online surveillance that’s occurring in our lives.

Data collecting is changing our private lives, because just about everything we do on the Internet at home and on our digital devices generates can and is being collected.

I am reading Schneider’s book, and when I finish it I’ll share more of his ideas on privacy and surveillance here.

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