In a recent post, Free Speech Recognition, David Pogue questioned whether the poor ratings of an iPhone app were because users need to upload to the company information that they considered private with the potential that the company would then in some way misue that information. He commented on similar concerns that have surfaced around Gmail.
But Pogue's observation is right on target:
What I don’t understand is: Why don’t these same people worry that Verizon or AT&T is listening in to their cellphone calls every single day? Why don’t they worry that MasterCard is peeking into their buying habits? How do they know Microsoft and Apple aren’t slurping down private documents off the hard drive and laughing their heads off?
I mean, if you’re gonna be paranoid, at least be rational about it.
I know folks who refuse to make an online purchase for fear of their credit card number being stolen. These are the same people who happily say that number over the telephone or give their credit card physically to shady looking waiters who disappear with it.*
It's always seemed to me that the world would be much improved if everyone throughout their lives were required to go back to school one week each year just to learn some very practical kinds of things. The first class** I would require would be "Understanding and Managing Online Risks." Why is sending your social security in respons to an email back to a bank you've never heard of not a good idea, but buying something from Amazon with your Visa is pretty safe? Why is it unlikely that mysterious people are reading all your boring e-mails, but why should you worry about sending an e-mail out that slams your boss? Is it safer to keep your photos on your home computer or on Flickr?
If only they would put ME in charge of the world!
*OK, I'll admit my personal paranoia demands that I only use a "cookie-free" browser to search for travel bargains since I've heard travel companies use cookie records to see how desparate you are for that booking.
** Other classes would include
- Why You are Menace to Yourself and Others Using a Cellphone While Driving
- Why Drinking Mountain Dew All Day Long is Not Good for You
- How to Help Your Kids with Their Homework Without Actually Doing It for Them