What level of privacy can we expect online?

Jun 16, 2020, 5:12 AM | Updated: 5:30 am

Tech analyst Larry Magid recently wrote a post in which he said that the internet is out of control, and as KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross jokingly asked, what gave him the first clue? Magid joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss digital activism and the expectation of privacy online.

“It just struck me that the country and the internet are kind of reflections of each other,” Magid said. “And no, it’s never fully been in control. Nor should it be in control in the sense that it that should be dominated by any ideology or any entity.”

“But just the amount of fake news, misinformation, cyberbullying, political trolling that’s going on right now. I go online and I just get a little bit more depressed than I used to,” he added.

What’s concerning for many is when the internet being combed for data that you thought was private, and as search engines get smarter and even get into facial recognition, one could suddenly find themselves part of an investigation where they recognize your face in any context.

Can the medical system and patients afford coronavirus-related costs?

“So you are taking a risk,” Magid said. “If you were out there, for example, expressing your political views or saying things that could get you in trouble at some point, in any kind of a public or semi-public feed … there is a possibility that that information could be used against you, so you essentially have no expectation of privacy.”

And while we may seem to protect ourselves, much can be inferred by our conduct online.

“There’s all sorts of things you can determine about a person from their feed … You can infer political persuasions, even if they never state it, usually by looking at their friends and things of that nature,” Magid explained. “So don’t think that just because you aren’t saying things blatantly on social media doesn’t mean that people can’t get, in a sense, a profile of you.”

Could a tunnel be the best replacement for the West Seattle Bridge?

As Dave noted, recent stories allege that federal investigators have been combing Facebook to hunt down rioters and looters as a result of these these demonstrations going across the country. But while it’s improving, facial recognition has been shown to remain highly flawed.

“It’s especially problematic when it comes to people of color, and I don’t think that’s a deliberate bias, but I think there is something about the algorithms that have trouble dealing with different skin tones,” Magid said. “Of course, there is this notion of garbage in, garbage out, which is that algorithms are written by people. People have biases.”

“Then there is this notion of do we want to live in a society where anybody can simply identify you based on a photograph or walking by a camera, without any form of due process?”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

republican debate...

Dave Ross

Ross: The highs and lows of the second 2024 Republican debate

As you’ve heard by now, there was considerable chaos during last night’s debate, including an argument between Tim Scott and Nikki Haley over the expensive curtains in her office.

1 day ago

baby plane...

Dave Ross

Ross: Planes are noisy, so are babies; what’s the big deal?

The issue of airborne babies keeps coming up, and as far as I can tell, the reason it keeps coming up is that reporters find themselves near a baby on a plane

2 days ago

retail theft...

Dave Ross

Ross: Seattle has a serious problem, not enough castles

I’m just back from a tour of Eastern Canada, and of course, when you visit other cities, you compare them with your own.

3 days ago

FILE - A view of the Shell oil company logo above a Shell fuel station in London, on May 5, 2022. S...

Dave Ross

Ross: How the gas tax could start paying you

A bill for the next legislative session that could rebate some of the revenue from the state’s carbon credit auctions to drivers

4 days ago

Dr. Bleich found you could discourage kids from buying soda if you post signs near the soda case sh...

Dave Ross

Ross: Study shows aging effects of sugar

My family informs me that no one wants to hear any more studies about sugar, because they've already heard enough.

9 days ago

school lunches research...

Dave Ross

Ross: New research confirms what we all know about school lunches

From time to time, we'll hear about scientific studies that, after careful research, will rediscover something everybody knew 50 years ago.

11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

What level of privacy can we expect online?