Issues relating to online privacy are still huge and, perhaps surprisingly, they are not always caused by ‘corporate bad will’ (i.e. where companies such as Facebook or Instagram insist on preserving ownership rights their users’ data). The more serious data privacy issues actually have to do with the inability of current technology to control the way data is shared, with whom and for how long.
Launched recently, the Wickr app claims to offer the latest, most sophisticated technologies in dealing with privacy issues. Boasting one of the most secure communication systems in the world, Wickr promises to put data control back into the hands of the sender who alone can decide who will read his or her messages, where and for how long. With military level encryption of text, picture, audio and video messages and secure file shredding features, the Wickr app aims to solve, once and for all, all our qualms about data privacy.
That is all good and well, except for one thing: users of the Wickr app (or users of any other piece of software for that matter) cannot really protect digital communications from the dangers of publicity, however hard they may try. Receivers don’t need sophisticated coding or hacking skills to find ways around the top level security promised by the software. To preserve copies of those self-destruct messages, receivers can simply take photos or screenshots or just record audio and video messages.
Ultimately, data privacy is bound to remain what it has always been: an issue of personal accountability and responsibility. However much security a piece of technology promises, you should still, by default, only share what you’re comfortable making public. No security app out there can guarantee that your drunken photographs, compromising messages or problematic videos will not one day come back to haunt you.