It should come as no surprise to many that Dictionary.com chose “Privacy” as its 2013 “Word of the Year.”
Consider these six news stories, which broke in 2013:
- The Guardian/Snowden revelations of the massive NSA PRISM surveillance program
- Myriad “Google Privacy Issues” – which now warrant a dedicated section on The Huffington Post
- The FTC Review of Facebook’s privacy policies (allowing FB to use information and images of its 1.1 billion users in advertising and on Facebook.com)
- Examples of GPS monitoring with cell phones pinpointing individual’s exact location, which PCWorld described as one of the “biggest online privacy threats of 2013. “
- The cyber-physical invasion into the home of Miss Teen USA, when a cyber snoop accessed the webcam of her computer, captured naked images of her and later attempted to extort her
- Target’s year’s end revelation that credit and debit card information of 40 million customers had been compromised in the middle of the ‘happy’ holiday season.
Given these, and all that’s happened before (as painfully documented in the definitive PrivacyRights.org Chronology of Data Breaches– since 2005), 2013 wasn’t really the year of privacy, more accurately: the year of the lack of privacy.
Optimistically, if 2013 was the high water mark of privacy violations and surveillance— can we hope and work toward making 2014: “The Year of Counterveillance?”
The Dictionary.com definition of “Privacy” is “The state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one’s private life and affairs.”
If you’re not familiar with the term, here’s the Wikipedia definition of “Counterveillance” or “Countersurveillance”:
“Countersurveillance refers to measures undertaken to prevent surveillance, including covert surveillance. Countersurveillance may include electronic methods such as bug sweeping, the process of detecting surveillance devices, including covert listening devices, visual surveillance devices as well as Counterveillance software to thwart unwanted attempts by cyber crooks to access computing and mobile devices for various nefarious reasons (e.g. theft of financial, personal or corporate data).”
From my perspective, countersurveillance appears to be a combination of smart and conscious practices (online and off) and the use of new technologies to preserve our privacy and security.
SnoopWall has posted two helpful and non-partisan infographics worth downloading:
“10 Tips to Keep out Cyber Snoops”
Cybercrime Infographic: /cybercrime-infographic/
What do you plan to do?
Together, let’s make 2014 the year of counterveillance.
Written by Robert Siciliano with Patrick Rafter
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