When will we take back our privacy?

The more willing we are to hand over our personal information, the more readily businesses and the government will abuse it

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Fusion Centers now track cellphone conversations, satellite feeds, landline telephones, texting, email, and social media site postings. They track bank records, credit cards, daycare centers, DMV records, Game and Fish records, mortgage deeds, and hotel records, and they're partnered with many of the world's largest companies. And they are doing all of this without a warrant and probable cause. Our founding fathers would be amazed at what the governed have allowed the governing to do.

A lot of readers (and certainly their kids) might not understand why it's such a big deal that our government is collecting so much information about its citizens. Who cares if the police stop you once in a while? If you're innocent, you'll be inconvenienced a bit and let go, right?

But our founding national laws specifically state that you should not be inconvenienced without probable cause. Inconvenience is the least of it. Just look at all the countries in which police forces invade private homes and take law-abiding citizens prisoner, to be tortured or never to be seen again.

When government gets information, it always abuses it. It collects too much information, too broadly, then uses it for illegal reasons -- always! You don't have to believe me. Read any of James Bamford's books on the U.S. intelligence agencies. My favorite is "The Puzzle Palace," though some people prefer his more recent "Body of Secrets." Both of them are chock-full of historical examples of government abuses. Reading them will change your mind about the leaking of our information as innocent and harmless acts. They will free you of the misconception that our own elected officials follow the laws regarding how it handles the information we've allowed them to collect.

I guess that is what bothers me the most. We are, as never before, allowing private companies and our governments to collect our private information. We are giving it up like it's an expectation. And in many cases we're begging for the loss of privacy. InfoWorld's Galen Gruman brought up several more cases of corporate privacy invaders, which seem so positive today, but in all likelihood will be used to harm us in the future. The digital world is making it happen so much faster than I expected.

Of course, Scott McNealy told us all about it in 1999 -- and George Orwell before him.

This story, "When will we take back our privacy?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Keep up on the latest developments in network security and read more of Roger Grimes's Security Adviser blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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