Voice of Oman: Alvin Thomas

16 Mar 2017
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Alvin Thomas voices opinion on online privacy and safety.

If you’ve been on social media recently, you would’ve seen the video of Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, going viral. In the video, the device apparently shuts itself down when asked whether it works for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). And that made me wonder: how safe are our credentials, and more importantly, how safe are we online?

True, the chances of you and I falling victim to an intelligence agency are fairly negligent, especially because we live in another country altogether. But if the CIA is logging things about my private life (on a supercomputer or similar) that is situated thousands of kilometres away, I would be quite chuffed by that – at least someone other than my parents care about my Facebook and Instagram posts.

But if you were to think about it, aren’t we all signing away our privacy and surrendering our online footprint by upgrading to newer technologies in the first place? Today, I use a “smartphone” that is designed to unlock with my fingerprints, detect my retina, snap quality selfies, and is connected to the internet 24/7. So obviously, if my print shows up at a crime scene, I’m going to be busted.

While that is probably a good thing (I guess?), there are still many other implications to logging your information. We live in a world where everything – and by everything, I mean everything – is connected. Google, for instance, logs all the places you’ve been to and all your search queries, Facebook does the same, even when you’re not logged in!

What would be a solution to all of this? Well, log off! And by that, I mean shutting down all your gadgets, social media and bank accounts. It is not easy, but it is possible. What would the intelligence agencies do then?

Oh, and before I forget: if I mysteriously disappear after this small article, you know why.

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