We live in a rapidly evolving world where technology is changing at breakneck speed. Online identity and privacy issues have raised more concerns and created more discussions, especially in light of this year’s numerous data breaches at major U.S. retailers. What can we do to protect our online identity and privacy? How do we better educate ourselves on the issues?
Here is a list of 10 books, podcasts, documentaries, and movies that you may find helpful. While this is hardly a comprehensive list, it provides a good overview from subject matter experts and throws in a bit of popular culture entertainment with lessons to be learned.
1. Documentary: Terms & Conditions May Apply
Filmmaker Cullen Hoback provides viewers with a chilling reminder of how carelessly we may click “I Agree” after scrolling through pages of uninviting text. His message to us is that the phrase “terms and conditions may apply” really means “the sentence structure of our policy allows us to use any data we please as we want” when put into practice. This film challenges us to think about what we are “agreeing” to and the implications that doing so may have on us.
2. Podcast: NPR - TED Radio Hour (The End of Privacy)
During this series of podcasts, TED speakers Hasan Elahi, Mikko Hypponen, Beth Noveck, John Wilbanks, and Alessandro Acquisti discuss our changing notions of privacy, the consequences, and whether privacy will soon be a relic of the past. They touch on topics including surveillance, open data, and privacy.
3. Documentary: Catfish
This 2010 documentary won critical acclaim when it was first released. The story starts simply enough with Nev, the main subject of the film (a photographer), being approached by Abby, a young child prodigy artist who wants to paint one of his photos. Nev then meets the rest of Abby’s family, including her very attractive half-sister, Megan. What begins as a seemingly typical modern online tale of boy-meets-girl takes a very unexpected turn. The conclusion is sad and shocking. This film should give us all pause for thought when it comes to interacting with others through social media.
4. Book: “Identity is the New Money” by David Birch
|David Birch is a director of Consult Hyperion, an IT management consultancy specializing in electronic transactions. He has been described by The Telegraph as “one of the world's leading experts on digital money” and has been named by WIRED magazine as one of their global top 15 favourite sources of business and finance information. In this book, Birch argues that our current concept of money is outdated and will be replaced by digital currencies and that the use of our identities through online social contact.|
5. Podcast: Guardian Tech Weekly
Phil Zimmerman, privacy pioneer and creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) email encryption, speaks on the importance of online privacy. Zimmerman was recently inducted into the Cyber Security Hall of Fame and inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012. He is the president and co-founder of Silent Circle, a company specializing in secure and private communications.
6. Book: “Hacking the Future: Privacy, Identity, and Anonymity on the Web” by Cole Stryker
|Stryker challenges the misconceptions that many have about privacy and anonymity on the Internet. In addition to debunking myths, he provides practical suggestions on how we can protect ourselves from identity theft. He also explains some of the history behind the now infamous group Anonymous and the role that they played in the Occupy Wall Street movement.|
7. Mini-documentary: Online Privacy: How Did We Get Here?
As technology has evolved over the past 200 years, so have our expectations about privacy. This new digital world allows us to connect with each other with increasing ease, but it has also left our personal information easily accessible, and our privacy vulnerable. This short piece produced by PBS provides some historical background and context and also addresses some of the current concerns raised by privacy advocates.
8. Book: “Dragnet Nation – A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance” by Julia Angwin
9. Movie: “The Net” starring Sandra Bullock
Given that this film was first released in 1995, the technology featured in the film may seem laughably outdated by our current standards. Nonetheless, the underlying message still holds true: don’t overshare your personal information and be wary of how your personal information could be misused.
10. Book: “Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy” by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel
|Authors Scoble and Israel are tech veterans who are extremely well-versed in industry trends. They both share an optimistic view of the Internet of Things and how being tracked by numerous devices can be beneficial. However, they make it clear that Big Data is watching us. Rather than lament the loss of privacy, the authors argue that now is the time to demand options that enable people to reclaim some parts of that privacy.|
What resources would you recommend for people interested in personal data security and privacy?