Protect our privacy! A pact for 2014

Stop smoking, exercise more, lose weight -- and guard our privacy? This New Year's resolution can succeed if we work together

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2. Go all out
Fight, fight against the dying of the privacy light. Drop off the grid. Boycott Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumbler, Pinterest, whatever, and condemn it all to the searing hell in which it rightfully deserves to cook. Band together and organize meatspace rallies, class-action lawsuits, and whatever else we can think of to disrupt the great digital marketing, information devouring, military-industrial establishment and beat it like a drum until it finally breathes its last and we can all go back to the way it (allegedly) was.

Cringely verdict: Again, no. It's too reactionary, and I'm not sure I want to go back to the way it was, whatever that means.

3. Pull a Hunter S. Thompson
We still condemn it all to a fiery pit of hell to fry. We comment constantly and drop F-bombs in clever places to maintain awareness. Never stop watching, never stop commenting, and in between rants, numb our worries with lots of scotch and mescaline. Selah.

Cringely verdict: Close, but not quite enough, though the scotch part sounds dead-on.

4. My official New Year's resolution
Vigilance and awareness are critical, but we need to stop merely accepting with sage wags of our heads and quiet tsk-tsking. There's a middle ground between spending your life staging rallies or sit-ins and doing nothing. If enough of us get involved a little bit, it'll have more impact anyway. When they're struggling on the field, fourth quarter, game tied, what gets a team's attention more effectively? That small group of half-naked fans who've painted themselves like garden gnomes with team colors or the entire stadium taking two seconds to stand up with their hands over their heads to do a wave?

That's what we need to start doing. Work the wave. Take an hour out of your day (just once) and do a Web search to find exactly who your congressmen, senators, and other miscellaneous representatives are. Get their email addresses, Facebook pages, website URLs, and write them down. Put together a group email list.

Then when I or some other fourth-estate yahoo report on yet another new technology hitting the market that will dig just a little further into your private life and that's not being controlled in an effective way, send a quick email. Another privacy data breach that could have been avoided? Send an email. It takes less than 30 seconds, and if email is exposing too much of who you are, there's always the more anonymous, but no less effective Facebook or website comments route.

Right now, we're mostly apathetic and accepting of something that could really be harmful if the wrong people wind up controlling too much of it. Those checks and balances are being crushed like drunk squirrels on a highway in rush hour. You folks out there in reader-land need to stand up a bit in 2014 -- let them know we're still here, we still care, and we can still vote them out if they sit around and do nothing. The same technology that's being used to rob our privacy can also be used to get our politicians' attention in a big way.

For my part, I need to step up my game this year. Maybe a little less ranting about gadgets and a little more about trends that require me to do more research, make more phone calls, attend more events. It's not too much, but it's a little more than what I'm doing now. At least, that's my new year's resolution. What's yours?

Have you made any resolutions for the new year? Post them below in the comments section or email me:

This article, "Protect our privacy! A pact for 2014," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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