The next time you are asked for information such as zip codes, birth dates and email addresses, take a moment to reflect on what that question truly means in the 21st century. Over the last two years, I have noticed a dramatic increase, across all sectors of our society, in the desire for our personal information. Whether you are applying for a job online or simply accessing the Internet via your tablet, your life statistics become binary code.

In the Privacy Policy of most websites, we find variations of the following text: Many website servers monitor basic information regarding their site’s visitors. This information consists of, but is not limited to, IP addresses, browser specifics, timestamps and referring pages. None of this data can personally identify distinct visitors to this site. The information is monitored with regard to routine management and maintenance requirements. We may use cookies via other third- party advertisers to store information about a visitor’s preferences and history in order to better serve the visitor and/or present the visitor with customized content. Third-party advertisers may also use cookies to track visitors on our site in order to display advertisements and other useful information. Such tracking is done directly by the third parties through their own servers and is subject to their own privacy policies.

Simply put, this means that, whenever you are asked any question, there is an implied understanding that you are giving them permission to use and share the information you are about to divulge. In the recent past, you could ignore these requests. Today, if you refuse to “cooperate”, you are barred from using most apps, navigating most websites and blocked from actually using the device you have just spent hundreds of dollars purchasing. I find it ironic that all companies and individuals who have a need for privacy, do not actually send sensitive information in digital format to the world wide web, while the rest of us are not offered this luxury.

Even entering your country is now at the cost of handing over your complete identity. In November of 2017, as I attempted to place my filled out customs card in the machine at the Ottawa airport, a green laser emitted from the screen and scanned my face in less than five seconds. My bio-metrics were now recorded and no permission was requested. Welcome to the beginning of the real life version of the Minority Report movie.

One could say that the “cost” of becoming connected to the virtual world is your privacy.

Catherine Hedrich

Editor in Chief, Tidechange.ca