Are you quick to sign up to the latest social network or download the latest application onto your mobile handset? Have you ever stopped to think of the information that you submit to all these different services?
Kenya’s have become increasingly tech savvy and adapt to new services fairly quickly. The growth of mobile web usage has resulted in increased access to services that at bare minimum require some form of registration.
While these services must have a compelling proposition to convince users to sign up, many users are not aware of what I call the fabric of the internet. Many consumers of the internet go about their online business in a self created privacy bubble, thinking that since they cannot be seen, they can then adopt whatever online persona that they choose. May sound foolish, but it rings true for many of us.
Our online lives are made up of threads of engagement across different services. Stitch these together and you can recreate an entire person’s life. If this hasn’t sent shivers down your spine in this day and age of identity theft and tech powered crime, perhaps a test case will make the point.You have signed up to the latest social network, which required you to give your email address. In no time you are uploading pictures of last weekend’s party and tagging your friends and colleagues. Next time you are on the social network, you are prompted to provide your phone number for ease of communication or some other “good “reason. In week two you are now on a micro blogging site broadcasting to the world every single mundane action that you are doing. A friend recommends a really cool app that allows you to know where you are on a cool looking map and you proceed to label all your points of interest for fun – your local, your church, your home, your fiancées house. Convenience is your last name and you make good use of that online shop that asked you to notify all you friends about the service and you gave access to your entire address book that got spammed to submission.
Bit by bit, the threads of your online engagement can be stitched together and the resultant profile can be quite scary. Imagine a stranger who knows who you are, where you live, where you work, what you had for lunch, where you are going this weekend and knows all your friends by name and by face.
You could cling on the hope that the stranger is some marketer who wants to sell you product cheaply but god forbid it’s a criminal out to reap where they have not sown.
Be afraid, be very afraid.