Introduction as Alexa or Google Home are a

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Last updated: June 21, 2019

Introduction We have come a long way from the Stone Age.  The era that we live right now is frequentlycalled the Digital Age.  Today “individuals en masse are movingfrom personal, face-to-face interactions to ones in the digital space.

“1  Smart TVs, smarthome systems, smart phones and computers are only a few technologies we cannotimagine our lives without. To understand technology, one must know whatit provides in terms of advantages, but also disadvantages.”2  Take for example, smart home systems that have becomeincreasingly popular.  Artificialintelligence powered bots such as Alexa or Google Home are a convenient way totell your schedule, call anyone from your contact list or play your favouritesongs.  However, in order to process therequests they need tremendous amount of information about you.  “Now, this very aspect is both good andbad. Good because it can make things convenient and bad since companies (withthe help of bots) will have your personal information at disposal.

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3  The same can be said about our everyday activities involvinglogging into to check emails, favourite social media accounts, banking sites topay the bills.  We all hear, read and areaware that the information we give while registering on websites andapplications is collected somewhere, however either for the lack of evidence orsimple ignorance, we still choose to turn a blind eye on the actualramifications it could have on our lives. Revelations made by Edward Snowden and Wikileaks in 2013-2014 might havebeen eye-opening to public at large.  Themost important disclosures or ‘leaks’ were the following: ·        “With a top-secret court order, the NSAcollected the telephone records from millions of Verizon customers ·        The NSA accessed and collected datathrough back doors into US internet companies such as Google and Facebook witha program called Prism.

·        Britain’s GCHQ taps fiber-optic cablesto collect and store global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories,and calls, and then shares the data with the NSA. ·        Until 2011, the Obama administrationpermitted the NSA’s continued collection of vast amounts of Americans’ emailand internet metadata under a Bush-era program called Stellar Wind. ·        The NSA spies on millions of phonecalls, emails, and text messages of ordinary German citizens.4 This demonstrates that “the technicalcapabilities to collect, store and search large quantities of data concerningtelephone conversations, internet searches and electronic payment are now inplace and are routinely used by government agencies.”5 If the Snowden revelations involvegovernments and their agencies in ‘spying’, ‘tracking and monitoring domesticand foreign nationals, we, as simple internet users are also prone to maliciouscyber-attacks from hackers and tech-savvy criminals. A clear example is “an epicand historic data breach at Yahoo in August 2013,” that “affected every singlecustomer account that existed at the time”6.  While they never found out who was behind theattacks, “theDepartment of Justice indicted four people inconnection with (another) the 2014 attack — two Russian spies and twohackers.”74 people only! The above examples are just the tip of the iceberg of howmodern technology can be used to infringe upon our privacy and violate ourright to ‘be left alone.

‘   Today, when we mention privacy, it is almostalways associated with technology.  Fortune magazinereports that “cybercrime cost the global economy more than $450 billion in2016. Many industry advisors and insiders suggest privacy is the next bigcommodity!8  Indeed, “geneticsand the extensive study of bio-markers, brain imaging, drones, wearable sensorsand sensor networks, social media, smart phones, closed circuit television, BigData, head-mounted displays and search engines” are all useful technologies onone hand but on the other, they pose a great threat to our privacy by simplycollecting personal data on the uninformed clients and customers.  Some IT and R&D professionals argue that”we have zero privacy in the digital age and that there is no way we canprotect it, so we should get used to the new world and get over it.” Othersconsider “our privacy more important than ever and that we can and we mustattempt to protect it.9  1

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