We live in a modern society which for the most part operates on electronic services. You may not give it much thought, but nearly everything you do in this modern age leaves digital footprints behind – most of which are stored and saved – perhaps ‘forever’.

Right now, YOUR name is no doubt on many lists, in many places, with all sorts of information and profiles about YOU.

You might not be too concerned about it, and that is understandable given the normalcy of today’s electronic commerce, communications, and the surveillance state we live in. We’re getting used to it. We have been conditioned to accept it. What you don’t know however is HOW the information will be utilized in the FUTURE. Our personal and ‘private’ data (digital footprints) is collected, saved, and sold – even to the government.

While you may feel confident TODAY that ‘the system’ is doing nothing unscrupulous with your digital footprints – after all, you’re doing nothing wrong, right? However you need to know that what you don’t know is what you don’t know. And how do you know that ‘the system’ will not one day use or interpret your digital footprints in a crooked, corrupt, or even illegal way in the future? Maybe what you’re doing today will even be illegal in the future… You just don’t know.

‘They’ know what you buy, where and when you bought it, what you read, subscriptions, prescriptions, what you search on the internet, who you call, your emails, your Facebook, social media, the foods you eat and drink, what you browse, the pictures you upload, anything you upload, the TV shows you watch, your travel habits, your circle of friends, surveillance, and on and on and on…

What ‘they’ know about you is far more vast than you may realize (or even care about), but the fact is – they do know.

Is this really a privacy concern for you? Do you really even care?

First let’s ask, who are ‘they’? They are ‘big business’ and ‘.gov’

What you need to realize is that business and government are intertwined. Big time. I believe that many people instinctively know this to be true today. What you may not realize though is that the merger of state and corporate powers is called fascism. That’s right, fascism.

The policies and programs of government often work hand in hand with corporate powers in order to control you. You may not think you’re being controlled, but oh yes, you are. It begins with knowing all there is to know about you. While there’s no stopping the way it is for the majority, there are things that you can do to minimize or control your digital footprints.

It’s nearly impossible to keep your life private today. It would be very difficult for most people to adapt a way of life which leaves hardly any footprints. With that said, there are some ordinary habits that you can get into so as to be more aware of the digital footprints you’re leaving behind in your everyday life.

First, you must realize that you ARE leaving a digital trail behind. Footprints. You must recognize the specific things you’re doing that are leaving footprints. In many instances it may be impossible to avoid (or impractical) – and that’s okay so long as you are AWARE, and therefore able to be mindful of what you’re doing.

For example, I am leaving footprints ‘forever’ right now, by writing this article and posting it on the internet. I also know that what I write is forming a ‘dossier’, a profile, on me. (Too late for that ;) ). But by being AWARE, I am making choices.

In no particular order:

Your computer or smart phone (even at work). EVERYTHING that you connect with is ‘tied’ to an IP address, and even a specific identifier from your specific device hardware (MAC address – Media Access Control Address). In other words, ‘they’ know it’s YOU. The things you do on that computer (send, download, etc..) which go out on the internet are traceable to YOU. The things you search, the emails you type, etc..

Be especially vigilant when you’re using a service that is free. It’s not free for nothing. They are likely collecting even more information about you in trade for it being free (did you read the terms of service? No one does…).

Posting pictures. There are a zillion social apps out there which people use to post pictures – some people almost constantly throughout their day. Did you know that almost all photo-taking devices (e.g. your smart phone, most all new cameras, etc..) have GPS geo-tagging built in? That means that when and where you took that photo is publicly available data which is very easy to retrieve from most of your pictures. This may seem innocuous, and perhaps often it is (harmless), but you need to know that this is what’s happening. For example, someone may be able to find where you live by simply extracting the metadata from a photo you posted online.

Smart phone apps. No one ever reads the terms of use when downloading a cell phone app. If you did, you would discover that you are agreeing to nearly every single one of them to give the app access to nearly everything on your phone, including your GPS location, your address book, your messaging, etc.. What do you think they’re doing with this information?! Think about it. Your information is going into databases to be stored, saved, used for marketing, or sold (for whatever reason). Again, you may think it to be harmless, but I suggest that you think about it…

Facebook, Social sites. Think about this: Next time you apply for a different job, that employer WILL look you up online. Facebook is always the first place they turn. So think twice about posting what you post there. They will also look at your family and friends on Facebook to discover more about YOU. They will also ‘Goolge’ you to discover whatever else they might find. These digital footprints last forever. Think about it.

You need to accept that in today’s modern world, that there are many many entities ‘listening’. They’re tracking you and what you do. You need to THINK about ‘how it looks’ and how it may affect your personal digital profile – because what you’re doing is ‘connected’ to YOU.

Again, in many or even most instances your digital footprint may seem or be perfectly harmless – but if you get in the HABIT of awareness, it makes you think about it.

This is the world we live in. Convenience sometimes comes with a price tag.

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