I don’t have a lot of secrets. By “secrets,” I mean things I tell no one. Josh will attest that I like to tell him everything I’m thinking and feeling (usually beginning around 11 pm). If he is out, I will tell my parents, siblings, or friends. The things I don’t tell are pretty boring, and I wouldn’t call them secrets.
And this article about brain hacking still gave me pause.
There is a difference between choosing to tell Josh my thoughts or choosing to write about events here, and having someone else pluck those opinions or beliefs out of my brain. Like the technological equivalent to a steaming mug of veritaserum (“Three drops of this and even You-Know-Who himself would spill out his darkest secrets.” –Snape)
The article explains how it could happen… now:
At the Enigma security conference here on Tuesday, University of Washington researcher Tamara Bonaci described an experiment that demonstrated how a simple video game could be used to covertly harvest neural responses to periodically displayed subliminal images. While her game, dubbed Flappy Whale, measured subjects’ reactions to relatively innocuous things, such as logos of fast food restaurants and cars, she said the same setup could be used to extract much more sensitive information, including a person’s religious beliefs, political leanings, medical conditions, and prejudices.
Okay, so not exactly the same thing as knowing that I purchased a chocolate bar this week (by the way, Josh, I purchased a chocolate bar and didn’t share it), but still. This is especially true if that data was mined unknowingly: if companies or organizations used signals from wearable technology, timing the images with information from the device.
Except… it’s not as if they have to do anything that drastic. At any given moment, Facebook can look down my wall, see what I’ve posted or liked or read or lingered on, and deduce my political leanings, future purchases, or medical conditions. And I’ve knowingly given those secrets away, if we can call them secrets.
We give away our thought privacy every time we interact with Facebook content, so why did this article give me pause?
It was a bit of perfect timing because I just signed up for Note to Self’s Privacy Paradox with the kids. I’m a Believer. Take the quiz and find out your privacy personality.