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A paranoid dad, or behind the times?

I had the benefit of watching my daughter’s school play this week, an excellent rendition of Little Red Riding Hood.  Sitting in the front row, I played the role of the proud dad envisioning an early retirement being supported by the next superstar to hit stage and screen.

About halfway through the show, I turned round and was faced with every possible recording device facing my direction, which kind of got my ‘work’ brain engaged.   Who is recording the content, where will it be stored, will it be posted online?   And am I being paranoid?  It does however beg the question that even when you take every precaution to control what images you post and share online, you have no control over what everybody else may do. 

A recent online debate has arisen where it was argued that there is no such thing as Privacy on the internet.  I suppose the example above adds weight to this argument, but we have to remember that even in the offline world absolute privacy never really existed as you could be included in the background of a photo for example.  What has changed is the potential audience for this photo to be shared, previously it would be in a photo album and shared infrequently, but in the digital world today can be shared with the world in a matter of seconds. 

This pervasiveness of personal information can be to the detriment of the individual, and this may be something that they do not experience until later in life.  A survey conducted by Microsoft entitled “Online Reputation in a Connected World” found that 70% of recruiters had rejected candidates based on information they found online.  Conversely only 15% of consumers believe that information found online would have an impact on getting a job.   With this in mind, it is also worth noting that according to the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) state [that] “the right to be forgotten, a purely technical and comprehensive solution to enforce the right in the open Internet is generally impossible”.

There isn’t really any precedent here.  Unlike previous parenting questions, your dad never really had to deal with the exponential use of social networks, and the potential impact it could have on your job prospects.  So the best bet in this case is to make sure you take every precaution to control your, and your families’ personal data, and images.    Like in the school play example don’t be afraid to ask the question about permission regardless of how unpopular it may make you.

Like Kurt Cobain once said, Just because you’re paranoid, Don’t mean they’re not after you.

Raj SamaniRaj Samani is a digital security expert, author and the EMEA CTO of McAfee
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