As proponents of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, you are likely already well aware that privacy is of fundamental importance to our lives. With the recent introduction of the Assistance and Access Bill in Australia, a law which requires tech companies based in, or operating within, Australia to provide law enforcement and other government agencies access to all encrypted communications, we thought it would be interesting to dedicate some time to talk about privacy and why it matters.
1. Privacy Is Not Just About You
Firstly, one of the easiest things to forget about privacy is that it is not just a blanket statement that relates to what you do or feel. Privacy affects many people in different ways. Not to mention, how you handle your own privacy can also affect others. Those you socialize with, do business with, and in terms of cryptocurrency trading, anyone who you are transacting with can be affected by your own lack of privacy.
By neglecting your privacy, or by being careless, you may inadvertently leak information about other people which can break their trust and cause them just as many problems as a privacy breach could cause you.
Privacy is just one of the reasons why many people openly choose to use P2P exchanges in order to trade cryptocurrency. When making trades with others, you can show you have regard for them by respecting their financial confidentiality and using discretion by keeping any private information you gained during your dealings to yourself.
2. It’s a Slippery Slope
Privacy is a limit on control. Control from governments, corporations, and other people. When we don’t take steps to maintain our privacy and ignore legislative or other kinds of threats to reduce our ability to embrace our own privacy, history has shown us that almost inevitably, our rights will be taken away. With that said, it’s important to note that wanting privacy is not anti-government, it’s simply pro-freedom. Freedom of thought. Freedom of speech. Freedom of choice.
Laws help to maintain a decent society but supporting the privacy of yourself and others also helps keep restrictions and laws reasonable. The fact is that you don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to understand that if you sit back each time another more restrictive measure is proposed and keep saying “it’s not that bad, this isn’t a big deal” then more often than not you are normalizing the next attack on privacy that will likely further reduce your ability to maintain reasonable discretion in your life.
3. Freedom To Think & Speak
Human beings need some amount of privacy in order to develop a rounded sense of self. There is something absolutely primal about the need for privacy and ethnographers have found that it is a universal cultural attribute.
Not only is it the driving force behind free speech but it also provides boundaries of protection so that we feel free to be ourselves, to explore areas of our mind without fear that we will be judged or attacked. Privacy is a key to freedom of thought, nurturing creativity and self-expression.
Privacy also helps us to form our political beliefs, vote and make decisions that matter to both us and our families whilst not being influenced by others into making decisions based on herd mentality simply because we are too scared to voice our own convictions.
Journalists and activists often need to take particular care when it comes to their privacy - putting their lives on the line to fight corruption and investigate situations that matter and may have a considerable impact on the planet. Let’s face it, an independent press is a pillar of democracy.
4. Your Reputation Is On The Line
We all have personal interests or quirks that we are keen to keep out of the public eye. Many of us have hobbies or things that we like to do that we find too personal to share with other people. Every single one of us of us, at one time or another, has said or done something that was only suitable to be shared with certain people in our lives, perhaps just a silly conversation with a close friend or something you would only be comfortable sharing with a partner. Now imagine if everything you ever did and said became public knowledge or was exposed to everyone close to you.
Imagine if your boss, your coworkers, your friends, your neighbors knew absolutely EVERY single thing that you said or did with absolutely no context whatsoever. Imagine if you were going through a custody battle and you watched some porn on your laptop years ago and it was used against you to imply you were of unsavory character, or imagine if you mentioned your back hurt in a Facebook message and an insurance company decided they wouldn’t cover you further because you had an existing injury, yet you were just complaining because you had a bad day. How about a purchase you made that was later held against you these are just a couple of these things that could make your life extremely uncomfortable.
Privacy is so absolutely crucial for our reputations because people can judge in haste and can be hypocritical of others actions, especially when taken out of context.
5. Limits on Control
Make no mistake about it. We live in a constant state of surveillance. Taking steps to maintain your privacy helps limit control of not just the government, but the increasing encroachment of the corporate sector on our lives. The more information you have about a person or group, the easier they are to not just monitor but control.
Collected information can give a lot of insight into the sentiment of a society on a particular topic, making the introduction of unpopular legislation much easier. By using large amounts of public information they can make more accurate assessments on exactly what people will tolerate, which then can be further pressed later, leading to more restrictions, and more control.
Keeping your information private, and encouraging others to do the same helps reduce the risk of control and manipulation to a minimum.
6. Your Personal and Financial Safety is at Risk
When it comes to personal safety, carelessness with your privacy can result in a range of problems from comparatively minor issues, such as a personal secret being exposed, to being harassed, stalked or worse. When neglecting financial privacy, it can lead to theft, robberies or physical attacks. If you won the lotto, would you want everyone knowing where you lived? What about your bank account, are you comfortable showing your savings to the world? When it comes to cryptocurrency that can be especially concerning for the same reasons.
Some cryptocurrency enthusiasts have even been attacked in order to try and gain access to their wallets with an intent to steal their funds. In terms of the world of cryptocurrency, with the media talking so much about how a lot of people got quite wealthy, it can be a significant risk to both your personal and financial safety not to take your privacy seriously.
7. Personal Information Is A Commodity
These days if you use any mainstream online social platforms or search engines, you are very likely being monetized. There’s an incredible amount of value for large corporations in gathering as much information about you and everything you do online to then either on-sell to third parties or use for their internal marketing services to engage with you more efficiently.
While you may not mind having ads made more relevant to you, the danger comes with how much information a company gathers about you, what they do with it and what security measures they have in place to ensure that your information is safe.
Every web search, every post on a social platform, all contain profile data that can build up over time to form a diverse digital profile. While social media and many online platforms are part of everyday life for most of us these days, being aware your personal information is a commodity and how you treat your privacy and who you choose to give your information to is essential not just because of how it can be used, but how it can be misused.