Ethics & Privacy in Today’s Online World

Image via www.vpnsrus.com

I chose to explore privacy in the online world today. I read a very interesting article called The Real Danger of Alexa Listening to Our Convos about what and how much Alexa (made by Amazon) listens to conversations made near the device, even if the device is not in use. Amazon can then use this information to market certain products that apply to a person’s personal preference and can even determine when you would be likely to shop online and market to you during that time. One of the scariest issues with this type of data collection is that you do not know what else the information might be used for. Could it eventually be used against you in a court of law? Where is the line drawn? 

Another article I read, titled That smart TV you just bought may be spying on you, FBI warns, is about internet privacy and involves smart TVs and their internal cameras and microphones that can potentially be hacked. The FBI suggests that owners of smart TVs “educate themselves on their device’s security settings (available from a simple Google search), change default network passwords set by manufacturers, and understand how to enable and disable microphones and cameras.” Although, even with these security measures it does not guarantee that a device cannot be hacked. After reading these articles it makes me more aware of privacy issues in general. I already knew that smart devices could record audio at any time, but what can be done about it is my question. Yes, you can take the precautionary steps but that does not guarantee 100% security. I think the biggest takeaway and how it relates to the library field is that it is vital to stay up-to-date on security measures. This would be the best defense against a patron’s library account or other personal information becoming exposed. For example, if I were a library Director I would make sure that the library’s computers, Wi-Fi, integrated library system (ILS), etc. had frequent updates completed and that library staff responsible for those systems understood the importance of privacy to library patrons and the public.