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TMCNet:  PRIVACY: You think Facebook is free? Well, it'll only cost you your private life

[December 28, 2013]

PRIVACY: You think Facebook is free? Well, it'll only cost you your private life

(Observer (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) An extensive European study last week found that Facebook was "dead and buried to teenagers" as the young sought refuge in messaging apps such as Snapchat and Whatsapp, away from the prying eyes of their parents. What could be worse than to be digitally stalked by parents, aunts and uncles? Teenagers want their privacy back.

But the real danger to Facebook - and other digital behemoths that make money from our data and content - is what will happen when the grown-ups decide they want their privacy back too. As John Naughton makes plain on other pages today, these companies have perfected surveillance as a business model. They spy on us for commercial gain. For now, the grown-ups don't seem worried. They should listen to their kids.

Lured by "free" services on the internet, we click through to a digital emporium where we sacrifice our privacy. Every click, message and electronic trail is mined for profit. Every digital stroke makes money for them. The more time that you spend, the more money they make. There is little they don't know, almost nowhere they can't follow and nothing they can't tell about your digital life.

As Naughton says: "The implication is that privacy is a transactional good - something you own and that can be traded." This data - our electronic imprint - is feasted on by commercial companies and by governments, as the Snowden revelations made clear. Bulk collection of data on this scale in the public and private sphere threatens democratic values and infringes human rights.

The net has effectively been captured. Government spying agencies on the one hand and Facebook and Google on the other are warehousing our data, mining our lives and minting theirs. Teenagers have decided that this infofest offers them too little protection from their parents.

How long before grown-ups decide that data-rich, digital anarchy also offers too little protection to them? (c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.

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