What is it with all these concerns about privacy? As I am spending quite a bit of my time in Germany, and even more because I am working for a German company operating in the IT security space, I am confronted with privacy related issues on a regular basis. But still I fail to see what the problem is.
Have all these people so much to hide that they need to be concerned about whatever they are hiding getting exposed to the party they want to hide it from? (Most likely I imagine that to be either the tax administration or the cheated wife – in the first case: please stop using the public roads that I, but not you, have been paying for; don’t call the fire brigade if your house is on fire, but try putting out the fire yourself; and when you unfortunately have to spend some time in the hospital, pay the full bill yourself).
In any case, I don’t have the feeling there is something I need to keep undisclosed at all costs. Which does not mean I am willing to throw any piece of personal information online for each and everyone to consult at liberty – obviously that would be making life too easy for criminals. But if my life gets easier by giving a specific trusted party access to some of my personal data, I have no problem doing so. In most cases I have encountered so far, this has meant: giving stuff to Google. [For German readers freaking out at this point from Google being referred to as trusted party: take a few deep breaths and please read on – some nuance is coming up.]
Allow me to explain what I mean with life getting easier and trusted parties. I recently switched to a new smartphone, and in the course of the setup process there was a question from some Google service if I wanted to restore the apps from my most recent backup. Shortly after agreeing to this, all of the apps I had installed on my old phone were popping up on my new phone. That’s what I call convenience. Another example occurred a few days later: on my desktop computer I was checking (using Chrome, logged in with my Google profile) how long the drive would be to a place I would soon be visiting; minutes later there was a notification on my phone with a Google maps route description to that address. That’s what I call convenient.
As for the trusted parties: although Google itself claims to live by the motto ‘Don’t be evil’, a lot of people are at best hesitant to share personal information with them (without actually realizing the gigantic amount of data they are already sharing with the search giant silmply by using its search engine). I, on the other hand, have no problem whatsoever that Google is storing loads of my personal information: I trust Google will protect it sufficiently against the bad guys. and – equally important – on the next level, I trust the EU to keep Google from doing things with my data that they shouldn’t do.