Students attempt to increase privacy online, in homes

Managing Editor

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Americans are growing increasingly wary of sharing private information with companies, according to Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan survey group. At the County College of Morris, some students have stopped sharing information altogether.

“I deleted all my social media,” said Jessica Wolff, an interior design major at CCM. “I don’t want everyone seeing my personal photos.”

Wolff is not the only one to feel this way. According to Pew, 51 percent of adults said they would not sign up for a free social media that required them to use real photos and names while monitoring their activity on the site to personalize ads.

While posed as a hypothetical question, Google does something very similar. When users are logged into Google accounts while using the search engine, that information is then used to present them with ads relevant to their habits.

“That’s weird,” Wolff said. “It makes me feel like I’m being watched.”

Being watched does not stop once offline. But that does not bother some students. James Perry, a criminal justice major, recently visited England where camera surveillance is common.

“There’s cameras everywhere there,” Perry said. “It made me feel a lot safer walking down the street at night, I knew people were watching in case anything happened.”

While the United States is not to the same level of surveillance as England, advances in technology have created surveillance where it never was before. Nest is behind a new line of smart thermostats, which monitor energy usage and homeowner movement in the house to provide individuals with the most efficient temperature control possible. It can also be set to adjust based on peak usage times to aid with a lower electricity bill.

According to Pew, fifty-five percent of adults said that was unacceptable. The largest concern seemed to be that people would use this to determine when no one was home and therefore when the house would be easiest to burgle.

“That’s invasive,” said Olivia Rasmussen, a nursing major at CCM. “I appreciate what they’re trying to do, but I wouldn’t feel safe if my movements in my own house were being watched.”

More adults over the age of 50 said that the thermostat would be unacceptable compared to adults under 50, according to Pew.

“I feel like people think just because we’re millennials that we’re going to be okay with every new technology,” Rasmussen said. “But I need to trust it, and some of these I just don’t.”


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