Dick Pics and Dignity Slips: what’s the world to do?

‘Dick pics and dignity slips: what’s the world to do?’ was published in the Strathclyde Telegraph in May 2015.


I’m paranoid. And not just about my exams – or more accurately, how long I have left to procrastinate. Walking home alone makes me paranoid. People making eye-contact with me makes me paranoid. A person shaking my dermatitis-stricken hand makes me paranoid. And gaining a little weight – above all – makes me paranoid the most. But you’d think the one place I could go to escape all of this would be my home.

Following an incident when I was younger, I have never been entirely at ease with security online – a default in my personality which has only intensified more with age. One pop up lead to another and BOOM: childhood ruined. I didn’t choose that fate but I forever judged myself for it, for fear of who else might’ve been watching.

When the Facebook Messenger App was mortified under the spotlight of the public last year, we considered – not for the first time – that the social media we were using daily had an ulterior motive. They insist that in order to get the most out of their services they need access to our videos, photos, contacts, friends and family – what did you think they were using them for? Advertising, like they told you? I don’t see why social media needs access to every memory you’ve ever shared with them, and quite frankly, most of your “friends” on Facebook aren’t remotely interested either.

In addition, and in relation to the reality of online surveillance, the UK’s intelligence agency has taken data quite literally from a camera in your bedroom. Now, this could be something to laugh about. Given that on my bedroom floor right this minute there is a pile of washing so big that it would frighten the French and few tumbleweeds more than I am comfortable with, I hope the UK intelligence do see my room – maybe, to make things up to me, they could even send over Kim and Aggie to tidy this place up.

In addition, Edward Snowden – for those who don’t know, the 29-year-old technology beast who captained the biggest NSA data leak in history – remarked that the UK intelligence GCHQ has hovered up so many dick pics that it’s become a bit of a problem for them. LOL. Eleven per-cent of total data collected is pornography, to be exact.

Alternatively, there is a serious thought to consider. Why are strangers getting access to data on everything bar who I fancy when I am sitting in the comfort of my own bedroom? I get dressed in here, ugh *shivers*.

Last year, Google’s Larry Page predicted that 100,000 lives a year are lost due to limited access to health data, which was a trip down guilt-lane if I ever did see one. Mr. Page wanted 7billion of us to feel guilty for not parting with our health records, insinuating that our desire to protect the most important thing we have left is why however-many thousand people will lose their lives in the future.

Stolen health data is 10 times more valuable than stolen credit card information. Why? Because your health records are unique to you. Heath data is ultimately the key to everything ticking on the inside, so you can understand why, in the past, people have been so stingy parting with it.

Apple’s latest and greatest creation the Apple Watch – complete with rapidly expanding plethora of health apps to monitor you from the inside out – aims to shake up the watch market in the same way it did with the mobile phone scene. It can test your heart rate and transmit it to your phone over The Cloud, confirming that it is good at just about everything except telling the time. Apple might reassure you that you have complete control over your data, but what is the mysterious hovering Cloud going to do with it afterwards?

Technologically, the Apple Watch could be fantastic. But employers and insurers have become particularly interested in wearable tech as a way of reducing sick days and lowering insurance costs. This means we are losing the freedom to opt out of things.

I might sound silly. In fact, when I share the link to this article on my social media accounts, I might sound silly and hypocritical. But please note that aim of this article isn’t to encourage you to stop using social media – I’ll leave that up to Edward Snowden and the other professional scarers.

Just be aware but by no means live your life differently due to this overhanging black cloud ‘surveillance’. If you have no reason to be scared, then still be aware. And if you are like 80% of the student population and have more than one reason to be wiping sweat from your palms from last Saturday night alone, then just be aware you have rights. That information is yours. But when it’s out there, it’s all fair game apparently

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