Posted by Jim Martin 30 April 2014
Free online services lack privacy: am I bovvered?
Plenty of people get their knickers in a twist over online privacy while others – myself included – are considerably more laid back. Data collection may be a cyber-crime in some people’s eyes, but it’s usually pretty easy to prevent if you care about such things.
Most people don’t bother to read the T&Cs when installing software or signing up to online services because they’re too long or indecipherable. And even if you don’t like Google, Facebook or Apple’s privacy policies, your only choice is not to use those services, cutting off your nose to spite your face.
A prime example is when you first turn on your new iPhone or Android smartphone. If you refuse to accept the terms, you won’t be able to use the device and will have to return it. Good luck getting a refund on that basis.
See also: iOS 7 secret location spies revealed
While I’d prefer these companies to pay me to use their services in exchange for this valuable information, I’m still financially better off than if I were paying other services which guaranteed my privacy (few of which - if any - do).
The other factor which can’t be ignored is convenience. When I sign into Google Chrome on a new computer, for example, it knows my usernames and passwords, displays my bookmarks and retains my browsing history and list of frequently visited sites. That’s not ideal from a privacy viewpoint, but it's brilliantly convenient. One Google account logs me into everything from Gmail to YouTube and Maps.
If I had anything to hide, I’d steer well clear of Google et al, but what’s the worst they can do with my data? Display relevant adverts which I might actually want to click on? Ouch.
Privacy is a highly personal issue and everyone has their own opinion. The important thing is that everyone understands exactly what happens to their personal information before clicking that "I agree" button.