Boundaries in Cyberspace
Photo by Erin Larson on Unsplash
This may seem a little off topic to some but I'd like to take some time to let you know about what's been keeping me busy in recent times.
The next morning I started doing my research. Catching up on 15+ years of development in the tech world was not easy - and I'm still researching to this day - but one thing was abundantly clear almost immediately. I had been totally unaware of my boundaries in the electronic world.
I learnt about my 'digital footprint' and all the means that the big tech companies use at their disposal to find out as much about you as they can. Subjects such as browser fingerprinting and metadata became recurring themes, and the fact that our mobile phones are used to gather data about us.
The world's biggest internet companies use our over-reliance on their free products to their own advantage. Data is sold, analysed and in some cases this is used to manipulate the political future of whole countries. In other cases, poor security means that personal data is leaked and various online accounts around the world are hacked. I was loosely aware of all of this, yet I wasn't aware of the technologies these companies implemented to achieve this nor the scale on which it happens.
I felt uncomfortable. I had been totally unaware that my boundaries had been breached. It's one thing using my information in this way, it's another thing to do it without my explicit consent. So I was spurred into action to remedy my engagement with the online world. Naturally, part of that includes this very website.
I am duty bound by law to protect my clients' files and these will soon be moved to a more secure cloud service (farewell Dropbox). The same data protection law also includes all correspondence which has for several years been managed by Google (sayonara!). Going forward, I will instead use an encrypted email service for all client emails and appointment records.
And further still, I will strip Google Analytics from this website and all embedded Facebook like and share buttons - all of which are used to track you around the internet whether you have a Google/Facebook account or not.
The principles of Zero Balancing include respecting a client's boundaries and holding them in the highest personal regard. I cannot in good conscience allow Google to scan the emails that are sent to me for content and log who emails me, when and where from. I cannot turn a blind eye to my client's files being on an insecure cloud service which can, in theory, be accessed by others. Neither can I allow people who visit my website in good faith be tracked by Google and Facebook.
I can't escape the reality of the world we live in. Nonetheless I am responsible for what I can control.
P.S. For anyone curious about where to start, I would suggest downloading Jumbo on your phone (you can press 'skip' on all the paid-for features) and doing an assessment of your online accounts. If you want to take it further still, check out the In Cognito course on Techlore's youtube channel. I'm not affiliated with either Jumbo or Techlore, other than that I am indebted to them for helping me out on this learning journey.
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