Berry: Consider your privacy this shopping season

Kelowna - Big Brother is always watching

You see it everywhere, at the mall, in Best Buy, on sale for the Christmas season.

It’s the Google Mini, available in stores near you. A co-worker proudly said she puts hers to good use with constant trivia questions.

But her Google Mini is capable of far more than trivia. After talking about a particular product in front of it, she later saw an ad for it on Facebook. And while she said she may have nothing to hide, how much is Google actually listening and where is that information going?

As technology continues to advance, so too does the ability for the government to surveil its citizens. Kelowna’s use of surveillance cameras came under fire this year from the B.C. privacy commissioner as council approved $30,000 for someone to keep an eye on lenses that are panned to areas like the parkades, Queensway Transit Exchange, City Hall, as well as the Stuart Park and Kasugai Garden public washrooms during operational hours.

READ MORE: Eyes on Kelowna’s crime hotspots considered in budget

And the internet does not open doors to democracy, as seen in China where it did the exact opposite.

While it was more expensive for the country to censor the internet, instead of banning it entirely, it allows the Community Party of China to have a greater influence over its citizens. Artificial Intelligence developed to recognize faces can be used to track citizens, something that has been widely accepted, according to a New York Times article.

A government official watching a public space is one thing, but think of it in the privacy of your home.

Cambridge Analytical is one example that comes to mind, where 87 million Facebook users unknowingly surrendered their information that was used to influence the U.S. election.

As citizens in a democracy, we should be demanding that these privacy rights are protected. In Europe, a data protection regulation has already been implemented, to ensure consumers know and consent to their data being collected.

We should do this, before our morning routines change from “Hey Google,” to “Big Brother is always watching.”

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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