What’s Your View on WikiLeaks?

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in Britain after an international warrant was issued for him last week, London’s Metropolitan Police said. – ABC News

I’m sure that there are many points of view regarding WikiLeaks and its recently arrested founder Julian Assange. Some believe that releasing previously confidential documents will aid in openness and accountability. They would say that we as the people of democratic countries have the right to know what our elected governments are doing. Others are going as far as saying that publishing classified military documents online amounts to treason and that lives have been put at risk.

What do you think? Can there even be a simple answer or are you still unsure what to think of the revelations that have hit the internet and our news services recently?

Well over 500 mirror sites have already been created for WikiLeaks so the information being released isn’t about to go away any time soon.

Closer to home

The whole situation has me thinking a little closer to home. Do we have the right to know everything? Are there reasons that things should be kept from us? If so, who should make the decision about what is out in the open and what is kept confidential?

Should we expect to know everything that goes on in our workplace, even when it doesn’t concern us? Should boards of management, CEOs and others in senior positions reveal everything about their dealings with everyone inside and even outside the company? Would you be happy to have your employment records and complete pay details online for all to see? I imagine that it wouldn’t bother some people but others would find it a little more concerning.

It seems interesting to me that at the same time that many are calling for greater privacy there is a great deal of support to reveal government details. There was a huge uproar when people felt that Facebook didn’t regard their privacy highly enough. Now we want to expose private conversations between heads of state which may have far greater consequences.

Caught in between

To be honest, I’m caught in between. I think there should be a great deal of openness and accountability within government, especially when those governments are acting on our behalf, but on the other hand, I think there’s a lot to be said for electing a government and then handing over the responsibility of government to those we have chosen to represent us.

Getting personal

Making it even more personal, I’m glad that every conversation I have, every email I write and every thought that goes through my mind isn’t splashed across the web. I try to keep my conversations honourable but I know that sometimes I mess up and say things that should never have left my lips. I’m glad that some people don’t hear those words. When I’m writing emails I do my best to be careful with what I say but I must admit that I have, on occasion, sent emails which have been less than helpful. When it comes to my thoughts …. I’m ashamed at what goes through my mind at times. I’m glad that between the time I think about something and the time I act on my thoughts I have the opportunity to censor myself and filter my reactions.

I’m glad that every thought, word and deed by every person isn’t displayed around the world. I believe we all need to be careful about the way we conduct ourselves in public or in private. We need accountability. We need transparency and openness. But I’m wondering if in calling for confidential details of government conversations to become public property, we’re holding others to a standard we would refuse to be held to ourselves.

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Fixing Facebook

We seem to be hearing more and more about online privacy concerns recently. I’m glad that many people are starting to take the matter seriously. In general, we’ve been far too laid back in our attitudes to what is posted online and what we make availabel for the world to see. I recently asked Are You Exposing Yourself Online? and ran a poll to see if you would take part in Quit Facebook Day.

As I’ve said before, I’m not throwing the baby out with the bathwater but I am looking at ways to tighten up security where required. If you’re concerned about Facebook security, and you really should be, you don’t need to delete your account. You can now use a simple scan to review your Facebook security. It’s a simple matter of moving an icon onto your toolbar and then letting the application scan your Facebook settings.

If you think that all the talk about privacy online is a bit over the top and that no one will be checking out your private posts, think again. News.com.au is reporting on a new website which is specifically aimed at gathering details from Facebook pages.

Have you tightened up your online security? Does all the talk of security and privacy concern you? I’d be very interested in your thoughts on the issue. Please leave your comments in the comments section of this post.

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I Trust Myself

SpamI trust myself. I really do. I guess that’s why I’m opening so much spam email these days.

I’ve noticed that there’s an increasing trend amongst spammers to somehow make their emails to me appear to have been sent from my own account. Brilliant strategy.

There was a time that I would have been sceptical about receiving emails about 80% off a range of medications. In the past I would simply delete emails about reducing or increasing the size of various body parts. I can remember mornings when I would arrive at my computer and spend a few moments deleting emails that suggested I visit amazing websites that would excite me. I’ve even been known to send emails with winning investment advice directly to the junk folder.

Everything’s changed now.

These days I just have to open those emails because I’ve sent them to myself. I trust myself, so if I’ve sent an email to …. well …. me, it must be something worthwhile. I don’t remember sending the emails but they must be important or I wouldn’t have sent them. All I know is, if my name is in the ‘from’ field, there must be something good inside.

I wonder if maybe some of the medications involved can actually transport you forward in time. Maybe I took a pill that rocketed me a few years into the future. Once I got there, I must have thought, “These pills are great. I must tell ‘past me’ about them.”

I also wonder, do the spammers really think that we’re so stupid that we’ll see an email that has our own name attached and think it’s legitimate and open it right away to see what goodies await us?

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Are you exposing yourself online?

KeyboardThe sacking this week of comedian Catherine Deveny following a public outcry over her tasteless tweets during Australian television’s Logies award night has again highlighted the connection between our work life and our personal online life.

Deveny used to write a column for The Age newspaper but editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge was quoted as saying, “the views she has expressed recently on Twitter are not in keeping with the standards we set at The Age.”

Passing Notes

Whether someone who was employed to be controversial should have been sacked or not while being controversial remains up for debate but her defence that Twitter is like passing notes in class seemed a little odd to me. It’s been a long time since I went to school but I seem to remember that the idea of passing notes was that you wanted information to reach a specific and very narrow audience. If you wanted to share something with the whole class there was ‘news time’. When you wanted to communicate privately you resorted to small, scribbled notes.

Twitter is not like passing notes in class, or even telling news in class. It’s broadcasting your thoughts to the entire world in 140 characters or less.

What does your online presence reveal about you?

Are you guarded about what you put online? Do you play close attention to what others are posting about you?

Your next job or your chances of promotion may be hanging on how much of yourself you’ve exposed online. 70 percent of United States hiring managers in a recent study say they have rejected prospective employees based on what they found. That means that what you consider to be a private matter between you and your Facebook friends could end your hopes of furthering your career.

We could argue all day over whether it’s fair or not but the reality is your online reputation can have a dramatic effect on your real life future. You may have been very careful with what you’ve put online via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, your blog or whatever else you use online, but have your friends tagged you in their photo of that crazy night on the town? That image of you drunk and half dressed will be hard for a recruiter to ignore when they’re deciding if you’re a good fit for the job you want.

What’s put online, stays online.

A lot of people are of the misguided opinion that they can delete online material that casts them in a bad light. The sad fact is that there’s no delete button online. You can remove material but it’s sure to be cached and available somewhere. Removing it is still a good idea because it will make it harder for a prospective employer to find but a determined recruiter will know where to go snooping.

Research commissioned by Microsoft in December last year found that 79 percent of United States hiring managers and job recruiters they surveyed checked online information about job applicants. The interesting thing is just how deep their research goes. Check out the table below for a better understanding of what your potential boss is looking for online.

Who else is finding out about you?

While the Microsoft survey deals specifically with employers and recruiters, they’re certainly not the only people who can Google your online reputation.

You might think that your parents would never check up on what you’re doing online, and that may or may not be true, but your parents have friends who might.

A potential boyfriend, girlfriend or even a future spouse may take a dim view of you proudly describing your past ‘conquests’ online.

There are plenty of other people who may be seeking information about you. Don’t just assume it won’t happen to you. Nothing online is private. Don’t publish, or allow to be published, anything about you that you wouldn’t want splashed across the front page of the newspaper.

The other thing to consider is that identity theft is an ever increasing crime. Many identity thieves use material gained online to steal thousands of dollars from unsuspecting social networkers. I may say more on that at some time but for now a reminder that you should never accept a friend request from someone you don’t know, no matter how cute their profile photo looks.

What would I find out about you if I searched? Would there be cause for embarrassment? Do you need to spend a few hours undertaking some searching and editing?

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Cyber Bullying

comp.jpgSadly it’s always been a part of school yard life and while we’ve woken up more and more to the often devastating effects of bullying, in the past our children would at least have the safe haven of our homes at the end of the day.

Over the past few years an even more insidious form of bullying has become all encompassing, reaching into every corner of the life of its victims. An innovative digital campaign was launched this week to help young people reduce the growing incidence of cyber bullying. The campaign, called Cyber Bullying Affects Real Lives, educates young internet users about the destructive nature of cyber bullying and empowers them with tools to help prevent it.

Yesterday during my morning radio programme I spoke to Maree Faulkner, CEO of NAPCAN (National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect).

Maree explained more about cyber bullying and how they’re working to overcome it. You can hear the interview by clicking the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

Have you ever suffered at the hands of a bully? Was it when you were at school or in a workplace? How did you deal with it? Have you ever been the one doing the bullying and do you regret your actions now?


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