Friday night topic: the online privacy apocalypse is upon us

I have to admit, I generally start to roll my eyes and tune out whenever a certain brand of Linux-loving, introverted geek starts lecturing about online privacy issues, the data-sharing policies of big corporations, the evils of Facebook, and so on. I know these things can be a problem, but I've never really seen the worst worries of privacy advocates come to pass.

Until today, that is, when I read this fascinating article about an iPhone app called "Girls around me" that mashes up data from multiple sources and produces a ridiculously creepy result. Read the whole thing to get a sense of what's now possible. Slowly yet suddenly, it seems, we've reached a tipping point where the average person, at least of a certain age, has exposed way, way too much information to the wider world. Consequently, it's possible to know the facts of a stranger's life in exquisite detail with a few swipes and taps.

I suppose the question now is: can we put the genie back in the bottle? Will terrible things have to happen before people wise up? Or is this a new way that future generations will live, with nearly everything they do indexed and potentially queried in an instant by complete strangers? And if so, how will that new standard change the way we live together?


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