I’ve read a lot over my years as a developer about privacy, especially as it relates to the Internet and technology. My views have skewed from one extreme to another (Everything should be private! Nothing is private!). Over the last year or so, my views (and the actions that go along with them) have settled a bit.
It wasn’t so long ago that I would go out of my way to host my blog and e-mail on my own server, where I (theoretically) was the only one with access. Yes, it was in a remote data center, so someone else still had physical access to the drive the data was stored on. So, again theoretically, everything I put on the drive was encrypted and would take awhile for someone to break into.
Then something would happen and my views would change. Who cares what happens to my data? Use whatever service I want. To hell with privacy policies.
Now, though, I’m a bit more middle of the road.
There’s got to be an understanding that technology will only do what us, as humans, tell it to (at least right now — if you’re reading this, Skynet, please don’t hurt me!). Humans, by nature, are fallible and imperfect creatures. Mistakes happen.
So what does this mean?
It means I’m willing to use services I need or that fit my workflow best, with the knowledge that: a) my privacy may not always be 100%; b) there are trade-offs to putting data into the cloud.
Mistakes are going to happen. If I use GMail (and I do) for my data, a mistake could happen that routes my e-mail to someone else’s box. Or allows another user into my account. If I use WordPress.com to host my blog (and I do), errors could happen that allow my private or draft posts to be exposed to the public.
Things happen. (And, yes, government intrusion into my data is also something that could happen. Is it likely? No. I haven’t done anything that would warrant the government snooping my data.)
Now, the other part of this is, if I make content available to the public, I have to accept that people might copy it, or comment on it, or something. I can’t control what other people do. The only thing I can control — if I have the money, time, and wherewithal — is whether another person makes money from content that I created, or content based on content I created.
In the end, there’s got to be some understanding for how these systems works, and how putting content out into the public arena works.