privacy rights

A group of MIT researchers says that an individual's Twitter history, Facebook likes and other actions on social media websites can be used to predict spending habits and other personal information. The researchers say they can determine the economic status of a consumer, his or her tastes and preferences and spending habits.

The MIT research study made use of anonymized credit card histories from 1.1 million consumers. The researchers were able to match the credit card data with the appropriate person's Facebook and Twitter account. Amazingly, the researchers were able to pinpoint who the person actually was on social media 90 percent of the time.

The MIT research results certainly cause one to wonder about privacy concerns, but according to one finance journalist from Yahoo, the majority of Americans are not concerned. He said that Americans generally just want to make sure that the process is being regulated in some way. As long as information gathering is considered to be legal, he does not believe that Americans care. In his opinion, the process could actually be helpful.

Other Americans Are Worried

Other Americans disagree and point to government's secret data collection practices that were exposed by Edward Snowden, calling these practices an intrusive violation of our privacy rights. To further their cause, they point to the recently revealed fact that the federal government is digitally tracking the location of vehicle license plates throughout the United States, then saving this data in case authorities need to track down and arrest a particular individual.

The government is also collecting cellphone data and matching it up with credit card information and a great deal more. In spite of these massive information gathering efforts, the government has not revealed who gets to look at this personal information, nor has it revealed what it plans to use it for.

Yahoo's finance journalist says that the government has more power than ever if it wants to locate and arrest you. It also has the advantage if it wants to collect digital evidence with which to convict you. Still, some argue that this information has been used to circumvent terrorist attacks, so the debate goes on.

What Are Your Privacy Concerns?

Are the civil rights and privacy rights of the American people in jeopardy as a result of the government and other large corporations having such easy access to our personal information?