Too Much Information

Managing Privacy and Security

One day, Susan received a phone call from her best-friend Nick. He was calling her from work and sounded really annoyed. He started right ahead telling her that his boss had a weird talk with him. He was surprised because he didn’t have a clue of what was going on. His boss explained him in a very sleazy way that one of his colleagues had found a blog online that Susan and him had together, where they would put fun stuff that they wanted to share with their friends. The boss ordered him take off a picture where he was dressed like a woman and wearing high-heels. He could either delete it or leave his job. Susan couldn’t believe her ears.

Establishing Personal Policies

We have to establish our own personal policies regarding privacy and security and apply these consistently across our different devices like computers or cell phones and forms of information, such as computer files, posts on social networking websites and so on. We may share everything and restrict access to some information, or we can restrict access to all of it and allow access to some. While running a home business, we may consider creating two separate accounts on our computer or separate email accounts, or at least organizing it in clearly designated folders. If our personal and work information become intermingled, the bereaved will have difficulties telling which one belongs where. While working for a company, we should be careful with the information we store on their computers. It may be against the company policies and, furthermore, the company may deny access to our personal information to our survivors.

After death, the rules for privacy and security management change, as the right to privacy dies with the person. Some of the information becomes addressed to our survivors instead of us, or becomes part of their personal information space and follows their policies from there on. The social death of an individual takes a longer time, as it endures while the bereaved are putting to rest all of the deceased’s matters. Wrong or outdated information may persist, as it’s difficult to be identified.

We should pick carefully the means in which we communicate our information. It is better to send good things in an email and say the bad ones over the phone. We shouldn’t leave a digital or paper trail that can be used against us, because it will. As soon as we realize that we have been misunderstood in written communication, we should use the phone, since resolving misunderstandings without the clues we get from tone and intonation is far more difficult and time consuming. If we need a quick exchange of information, it may be better done with instant messengers. When we send out or publish our information, we should be careful about who has access to it and for how long.

We share some information with others. We should consider dividing our responsibility, as we don’t have to maintain everything by ourselves. For example, a parent may take care of the medical records of their kids, while the other takes care of their photographs. In shared information management it is useful to discuss the organizational scheme together with all the people involved. It helps us to get accustomed to each other’s approaches and the orientation within other people’s organizational schemes becomes easier. Of course, we have to select carefully the people with whom we share our information. For example, we often assume that we trust people who come to our homes, but we don’t trust our close friends in the same way as a plumber. Sharing information with people to whom it is relevant is a good way of preventing it from getting locked within our password-protected personal information space, which can make its retrieval impossible.