The Future of Your Privacy Doesn’t Look Good

Reporting about widespread government surveillance of ordinary citizens helped win the Guardian and the Washington Post a Pulitzer Prize in 2014. But many ordinary citizens themselves have offered a "Ho-hum everybody does it" response to the spying revelations made by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The lackadaisical public reaction does not bode well for the future of privacy. And that's the same conclusion that the Pew Research Center came to in December after canvassing thousands of Internet, technology and privacy experts.

In the near future foreseen by many of those experts, personal information will be public by default. And people who try too hard to keep their personal information private will be considered weird...or possibly even criminal.

Our Own Worst Enemies

Published as part of Pew's 2014 Internet Project marking the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web, "The Future of Privacy" reveals a split between experts who believe privacy protections will be better by 2025 -- 45 percent of respondents -- and those who do not, who carried the majority with 55 percent.

"Despite this very divided verdict, there were a number of common thoughts undergirding many of the answers," the report noted. "For instance, many of those answering 'yes' or 'no' shared the opinion that online life is, by nature, quite public."

Among the other areas in which most respondents agreed: "Privacy and security are foundational issues of the digital world." We live in a time of unprecedented and ubiquitous surveillance and most of us are our own worst enemies when it comes to protecting our personal information.

The reason behind that last observation is simple: Most people are quick to give up personal information in exchange for personal convenience -- that is, to get goods or services more quickly and easily. It's also the reason why...

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