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United We Snoop: Half Complacent with Surveillance

January 13, 2014

This Washington Post article from December caught our attention: “Americans uneasy about surveillance but often use snooping tools, Post poll finds.”

It captures the paradox we find ourselves in. While we’re all so concerned about privacy and surveillance, most of us are also comfortable running a bit of home surveillance ourselves. Here’s a quote from the article by Marc Fisher and Craig Timberg:

Nearly seven in 10 Americans are concerned about how much personal information government agencies and private companies collect, the poll found. But among parents 40 or older — the group most likely to have teenagers — 70 percent said they monitor the Web sites their children visit. Many also review their kids’ texts, e-mails and social-media use. A small number of Americans also report tracking the movements of their spouses or using video feeds to monitor elderly parents.”

And we wonder why Facebook is having problems attracting younger users. At Virtru we understand this trend and we’ve decided to create tools that let users have more control over who can see or forward emails.

While it makes sense for parents to keep tabs on where children are going online, doesn’t it also teach them to accept surveillance on a larger scale? This gets to the root of how we, as a society, need to come to grips with privacy and whether surveillance really does make us safer. Meanwhile, it creates a situation in which older individuals (parents) don’t see a problem with surveillance and younger individuals (Snapchat users) are leading something of a privacy revolution.

There is a disconnect between how we, as individuals, value our own right to privacy and how we, as a society, approach the privacy of others. Virtru is convinced that our current privacy practices are needlessly limited by decades-old technology. It’s time for real change in how we secure our own communications.