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If you had to choose between being safe or being free, which would you pick?

That may be a little extreme, but it certainly paints a picture of many of the decisions we’re facing today. Unfortunately, we live in a world where there are an ever increasing number of foreign and domestic threats. Governments and law enforcement are looking to protect us, but we often feel their techniques and strategies infringe on our freedoms and limit our privacy.

Fueling this environment are the new devices we use everyday. Because of their constant Internet connectivity and many features, law enforcement is looking to use the data they collect to crack down on criminal behavior. This article isn’t meant to be a big brother prophesy, or point an accusing finger at any organization, but rather to inform people of the dual effects of modern technology. The following are just a few popular tech trends that could be used to impose on our freedoms.

Mobile Technology and Apps

Most people aren’t aware that default permissions on their apps How App Permissions Work & Why You Should Care [Android] How App Permissions Work & Why You Should Care [Android] Android forces apps to declare the permissions they require when they install them. You can protect your privacy, security, and cell phone bill by paying attention to permissions when installing apps – although many users... Read More and phones allow developers to share browsing habits, personal information, contacts, and other information, with almost any advertiser looking to pay for it. Think about it, how many apps require you to log in with a personal profile? All your recorded information is up for grabs, making you accessible to organizations you’ve never even heard of.

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Even Twitter recently announced data licensing as a core piece of their business model. In this era of big data, Twitter is hoping to profit from its users by selling access to their tweets. Also, one step further, geo-targeting is becoming increasingly popular. Advertisers can use the location services on your phone to send you promotions specific to where you are at that moment. If advertisers can do it, what is stopping the feds from doing the same?

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The Internet of Things in our Homes

The Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to a network of interconnected objects always online, is an interesting concept (as well as a huge security nightmare Why The Internet of Things Is The Biggest Security Nightmare Why The Internet of Things Is The Biggest Security Nightmare One day, you arrive home from work to discover that your cloud-enabled home security system has been breached. How could this happen? With Internet of Things (IoT), you could find out the hard way. Read More ). On one hand, it offers tremendous benefits, like the ability to adjust the thermostat remotely and having your toaster notify you if its parts are failing. The downside is that your Smart TV could be watching Smart TVs Are A Growing Security Risk: How Do You Deal With This? Smart TVs Are A Growing Security Risk: How Do You Deal With This? Read More your every reaction to the latest season of Walking Dead.

Recently Samsung came under fire for its interactive voice command features. Essentially, like speaking with Google Now Google Now Knows Where You Parked, Gets Offline Cards, And More Google Now Knows Where You Parked, Gets Offline Cards, And More The Android Google Search app has been updated, and tucked inside it are some pretty awesome tweaks to Google Now that add quite a bit of usefulness to Google's personal assistant. Read More or Siri, users can speak and interact with their TV. Samsung stores searches in a database, using the information to make modifications and future improvements. The problem is that normal conversations could be mistaken for searches, which would then be recorded and stored. This concern isn’t exclusive to Samsung. Any of the new IoT devices could accidently record our information, and we are never quite sure who is on the other end to receive it.

The Age of Biometrics

It’s fun to look back at classic spy movies, when secret agents like James Bond had to bypass fingerprint scanners to gain access to top secret weapons facilities. Now, that same tech is used to protect our iPhones Does the iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner Increase The Chance of Theft? Does the iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner Increase The Chance of Theft? The iPhone's new fingerprint sensor seems like a great way to use biometrics to keep the device secure and personal, but could the feature be used against the owner to circumvent existing protections? Read More .

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Biometrics, meaning using metrics to measure human characteristics, has become a common form of identification and security. Fingerprint scanners, iris readers and face recognition software are becoming more and more common in the devices we use everyday. Even social media is adopting this technology. Facebook is working on a program called DeepFace How Will AI Impact Your Life in the Next Ten Years? How Will AI Impact Your Life in the Next Ten Years? Artificial intelligence is growing quickly, and seems braced to change the world. How will that change present itself in the next few years? Here are some good guesses. Read More , which is able to create 3D models of your face, and then use that information to recognize when you appear in pictures. While it might improve security measures, it’s concerning to think companies could have access to information that identifies you as a person. That same technology could be used in security cameras to recognize where you are at all times, like a real-world version of Minority Report.

This convergence of the era of big data analytics and increased national security concerns raises questions of future privacy initiatives. Right now, we are developing tools meant to improve our lives and make things a little easier. However, companies and governments also realize these devices are powerful data collection tools. No one wants to be a victim, but at the same time, having people unknowingly monitor our every move isn’t a welcome thought either.

Where do you stand on the technology vs. privacy debate? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image Credit: Privacy by Geralt via Pixabay, Biometrics by OpenClips via Pixabay, iphone smartphone apps apple inc by JESHOOTS via Pixabay

  1. JimmyCliff
    March 6, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    I'd rather be a free man in my grave……then I living as a puppet or a slave.
    -J. Cliff

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