The sun peeks through the curtains, heralding another day. Before rolling out of bed, you glance at the fitness bracelet attached to your wrist. Padding down the stairs, you notice the living room light is already on and the furnace is waking from its slumber, bringing the temperature up a couple of degrees.
Before heading out the door, the phone rings. It’s someone asking if you want your heating ducts cleaned. Now you’re running late, but you’re soon out the door and into the car. You remember to slow down at the big intersection where a newly installed camera is tracking speeders. You park your car at the light rail station and reach for your transit pass, swiping it as you board the train for downtown. The journey is about 12 minutes, enough time to do a little online banking on your smartphone.
The security guard makes chitchat as you fill out the sign-in sheet in the lobby of your office building. A quick fumble for your electronic pass card, another swipe and you board the elevator for the seventh floor.
At your desk, you scratch your head before finally remembering your new computer password. Once logged on, you pull a memory key out of your briefcase, insert it into the machine, and retrieve the report you began pulling together last night at home.
During lunch hour, you check a few more websites and find those shoes at a great price from an online wholesaler. You log into your account with the store, confirm your credit card number, and place the order. Then your cell phone rings. It’s your spouse reminding you to call the insurance company. Before heading back to the office, there’s time to call the company and complete a medical history survey over the phone — a prerequisite for term life insurance.
The day is only a few hours old, but already you have left a potentially revealing trail of personal fingerprints. You probably didn’t give it a second thought and, besides, such interactions are just part of everyday life. In the modern era, we have little choice but to part with sensitive data. While that may be true, you can choose to practise good habits that will protect your personal information — and in turn your reputation, credit rating, and livelihood.
We have every right to hope our home would be a private sanctuary from the many people, organizations, and devices collecting information about us. Curtains, blinds, and a good fence are not enough anymore. How to ensure your digital information is secure? How to protect your privacy?
There are simple steps each of us can take to keep our important data out of reach while still participating fully in new technologies. Jim Bronskill and David McKie spell them out for us in their new book, Your Right to Privacy. You do have the right to privacy, even at a time when governments, businesses and others want to know more about almost everything we do.