The risk is especially acute in places where bounty hunt† In a state like Texas, where citizens have the power to sue people who help others access abortion services, everything you say or do becomes relevant in any context because there is no possible cause obstacle for access to your data†
Beyond that, it’s difficult to do full justice to all the risks, because context matters and different combinations of circumstances can conspire to magnify the damage. Here are risks to keep in mind:
Scholars, including my colleagues and I, have sounded the alarm for years, arguing that surveillance activities and lack of privacy threaten the most vulnerable end up being a threat to everyone† That’s because the number of people at risk can increase when political forces identify a wider population as a threat that warrants surveillance.
The lack of action on privacy vulnerabilities is partly due to a lack of imagination, which is often blinders people who see their own position as largely safe in a social and political system.
However, there is another reason for inattention. When considering general privacy obligations and requirements, the privacy and security community has been engaged in a debate for decades about whether people really care about their privacy in practice, even if they value it in principle.
I would argue that the privacy paradox—the belief that people are less motivated to protect their privacy than they claim to be — remains conventional wisdom to this day. This view diverts attention from taking action, including giving people tools to fully evaluate their risks. The privacy paradox is arguably more of a commentary on how few people understand the implications of what is being mentioned surveillance capitalism or feel empowered to defend themselves against it.
With the general public portrayed as indifferent, it is easy to assume that people generally do not want or need protection, and that all groups are equally at risk. Neither is true.
It’s hard to talk about silver linings, but as these online risks spread to a wider population, the importance of online safety will become a common concern. Online safety includes being careful digital footprints and the use of anonymous browsers.
Perhaps the general population, at least in states that are ready to… activate or validate abortion bans, will come to see that Google data can be burdensome.
Nora McDonald is an assistant professor of information technology at the University of Cincinnati.
This article was republished from The conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article†