PRIVACY - Is it overrated?

  1. Sridhar Ananthanarayanan
    Lollipop Aug 17, 2019

    Sridhar Ananthanarayanan , Aug 17, 2019 :
    The single most important, most debated subject of being online - privacy and security.

    While security is undisputed, privacy aspect is.

    So what exactly is the concern? As normal people in normal professions (which is easily more than 90% of the population), is there a need for worry?

    For a long time since I started using smartphones, I had a natural inclination towards remaining anonymous and private online. I would always use incognito browsing for everything I do online, never create an account with a service as much as possible (e.g. I would watch YouTube videos without signing in), etc.

    With time, I began realizing that I am actually missing out on so many interesting things that matter to me, and much of the content that would interest me would be made available to me without much effort using machine learning and artificial intelligence, an area where huge investments are being made.

    So slowly I started accessing content and use services with my Google account. Over time, everything from Google feed to YouTube videos were showing me content that I am interested in, and sometimes they were so intelligent that I have been so amazed with the whole technology that is at works. Surely, you cannot expect a doctor to give you the right prescription without giving him complete details about your problems. You can't talk privacy there.

    With that said, why are are we overemphasizing this aspect of our lives? On one hand, we have countries like China, that has built a huge wall and online monitoring system which can invade into people's privacy. On the other hand, we have the anti-Google lobby that keeps inflating the privacy problem more than is necessary. Especially since much of what Google learns about you is private, and only you can access/ control it, and also because the open-source alternatives are overrated. I say overrated because there are no audit reports available. Their codes may be available for audit, but is there a trustworthy source that is actually auditing them?

    @Ruby G. explained the lifestyle change she had to adjust to when moving from China to North America. In China, she only had to carry her phone and even the smallest of items can be purchased using the smartphone. And she never had a security issue because of that (I don't know what would happen if she lost that phone :)). That is indeed the way forward for all countries.

    All that said, my current position is this. Make best use of the technology at hand, because if you don't provide the necessary inputs, there cannot be a proper output.

    As with some things that we do online which we might want to keep completely private, use a non-google browser (like Firefox Focus or Brave) in incognito mode with Duck Duck Go search engine.

    For everything else, use GOOGLE. :)
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019

    David Y. and Starcommander like this.
  2. Sridhar Ananthanarayanan
    Lollipop Aug 17, 2019

    Sridhar Ananthanarayanan , Aug 17, 2019 :
    The other advantage of signing in using a common account is cross-platform relevance. You are not tied to a platform or eco-system, and you are free to switch between multiple devices, and pick up on one device from where you left off on another.

    Starcommander likes this.
  3. Starcommander
    KitKat Aug 18, 2019

    Starcommander , Aug 18, 2019 :
    Where did she say that? There was a thread about that?

  4. Starcommander
    KitKat Aug 18, 2019

    Starcommander , Aug 18, 2019 :
    Thats true. I book cabs on OLA. When it shows surge pricing, I open Uber app and to my surprise, ola fares go down... Heights of privacy

  5. Sridhar Ananthanarayanan
    Lollipop Aug 18, 2019

    Sridhar Ananthanarayanan , Aug 18, 2019 :
    I think it was in her interview thread. Don't remember the details.

    Starcommander likes this.
  6. Sridhar Ananthanarayanan
    Lollipop Aug 18, 2019

    Sridhar Ananthanarayanan , Aug 18, 2019 :
    This I haven't noticed, especially since pricing is dynamic. But you access them using their respective apps, isn't it?

    Starcommander likes this.
  7. Starcommander
    KitKat Aug 18, 2019

    Starcommander , Aug 18, 2019 :
    Yup I use ola daily for commute. I have noticed some change in the pricing especially If I tap on book cabs, see the price, open uber app, book an uber ride.
    Uber takes a longer time than OLA usually. So I once again open OLA with uber searching for cabs in background and voila prices of ola went down :p

  8. Sridhar Ananthanarayanan
    Lollipop Aug 18, 2019

    Sridhar Ananthanarayanan , Aug 18, 2019 :
    I'm not sure if these apps have a way to figure out your activity. I just checked their permissions. I have enabled only the location (necessary) and phone (useful) permissions. Unless you have enabled other permissions like microphone, sms, etc., and even then I can't think of how they may be monitoring what you are doing. And neither apps have requested "usage access" permissions.

    Starcommander likes this.
  9. Starcommander
    KitKat Aug 18, 2019

    Starcommander , Aug 18, 2019 :
    Thats what I am saying, even without permission they are able to access. I dont know whether its placebo but this is too often for me

  10. David Y.
    Global Community Manager Staff Member Aug 22, 2019

  11. Gav_W86
    Starting Point Expert Aug 22, 2019

    Gav_W86 , Aug 22, 2019 :
    could be they are just seeing they are doing a search, then the app going to the background, then coming back to the foreground again - and making the assumption from that you are price checking (or even just prevaricating and giving you a price boost just to encourage you)

  12. Sridhar Ananthanarayanan
    Lollipop Aug 23, 2019

    Sridhar Ananthanarayanan , Aug 23, 2019 :
    Hope OnePlus respects it's users' privacy and choices. An area where there is huge ambiguity and dilemma.

    David Y. likes this.
  13. agoinfly
    Marshmallow Sep 11, 2019

  14. Dresa91
    Android Q Sep 11, 2019

    agoinfly likes this.
  15. Sridhar Ananthanarayanan
    Lollipop Sep 11, 2019

    Sridhar Ananthanarayanan , Sep 11, 2019 :
    There are so many things that we can see here.

    First off, it's not like only "bad" people have something to hide. People working for intelligence agencies, high profile business persons and politicians, dissidents, journalists working on special assignments, etc. all have sufficient reasons to remain as private and anonymous as possible. But all of them put together will be less than 10% of the world population.

    As with the rest, privacy in many different ways is a relative subject. What I mean is, you don't or may not care about some unknown person having read your email or bank statement, but you have a problem if your neighbor can access it.

    Yes, I have a lock screen on my devices. I also have the applock enabled for some of my apps like emails, chat, messages, etc. It is not like I don't care about my privacy. Nor am I ignorant of the consequences.

    Let's look at Google. There is so much advancement in tech, and they are much ahead of anyone else in that regard. From Google Photos to Maps to Search, everything is possible only if they have a lot of data and the technology to make it useful for you.

    And my whole debate "for it" rests on the assumption that they have sufficient safeguards in place to prevent their employees and associates from seeing your data on a human level. As long as it is at the machine level and computer algorithms that is accessing your data to provide useful information to you, I am fine with it. They do say in many places that only I (as a human being) have access to my data, and I have full control over it (meaning i can delete all history).

    With all that said, I won't be surprised if Google is actually controlled/ monitored by the NSA (or some secret intelligence agency), but as a normal human being in a normal profession, I have personally little to worry about.

    This is the main reason behind The Great Internet Barrier that China has. They know all these sneaky strategies that America uses to spy around the world in the name of national security. If only America knew how to mind it's business. But no, they want to interfere with every country, extract whatever they can from them, and that is exactly why all over the world they have made enemies. But America survives because it only has to buy a handful of people in each country to toe it's line. If they don't, then they will fund the opposition/ dissidents in those countries and create unrest there. And these very people will turn up against America at some point because America knows how to ditch people once their own interests have been served. But this is another topic.

  16. agoinfly
    Marshmallow Sep 11, 2019

    agoinfly , Sep 11, 2019 :

    "...the people that say that, that privacy isn't really important, they don't actually believe it. And the way that you know that they don't actually believe it, is that while they say with their words "privacy doesn't matter," with their actions they take all kinds of steps to safeguard their privacy. They put passwords on their email and their social media accounts, they put locks on their bedroom and bathroom doors. All steps designed to prevent other people from entering what they consider their private realm and knowing what it is that they don't want other people to know."

    Privacy is essential to who we are as human beings, and we make decisions about it every single day. It gives us a space to be ourselves without judgement, allows us to think freely without discrimination, and is an important element of giving us control over who knows what about us.​
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019

  17. Sridhar Ananthanarayanan
    Lollipop Sep 12, 2019

    Sridhar Ananthanarayanan , Sep 12, 2019 :
    I saw that video and it I agree with what the speaker had to say. You don't have to quote it.

    Assuming you read the thread and my comments, I didn't, at any point, say privacy isn't important. I only said that that to make use of technology, you have to provide the necessary inputs. And given that all those inputs are supposed to be private and only you have access to it (along with the computer algorithms that are analyzing them), there shouldn't be too much cause for concern, for most people.

    The thread also spoke about using a private browsing session (with trackers disabled) along with VPN/ TOR for things you don't want to associate with your account. Yes, Google (and other agencies who can get into their systems) can still track you based on your IP address and other parameters and the only way to completely cut them off is to remove all Google apps completely (but if you are using Android, that is still from Google).

    For me, that trade off isn't worth it. And I'm pretty sure it isn't worth for most people who want to make use of the advancements in tech. The moment you are online, you can be tracked. Remember, even your phone calls can be tracked and monitored and Google has nothing to do with it.

    The question is whether you are willing to give up on tech because someone can track you. I'm not.

  18. agoinfly
    Marshmallow Sep 12, 2019

    agoinfly , Sep 12, 2019 :
    To answer your main question:
    I think privacy is underrated instead, and your argumentations simply confirm that.

    I assume we have here a different opinion about the right of privacy.
    Google will never set your data end-to-end encrypted and painstakingly engineered.
    But, theoretically, it could be possible to be on-line without being traced.

    I quoted Glenn Greenwald just to remark
    what he said.
    Nobody actually wants to be spied on.


  19. Sridhar Ananthanarayanan
    Lollipop Sep 12, 2019

    Sridhar Ananthanarayanan , Sep 12, 2019 :
    If privacy was underrated, there wouldn't be so much noise around it. There are some genuine concerns and they are being addressed by the likes of GDPR. But at the same time there is a lot of noise too, which make this aspect overrated.

    For sure, you cannot make use of technology without the right inputs. It is this part that I am trying to bring forth.

  20. anupritaisno1
    KitKat Sep 12, 2019

    anupritaisno1 , Sep 12, 2019 :
    GDPR is just a fancy way to say cookie law

    Most companies are already violating the GDPR and are getting away with it

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