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The 11 Most Invasive Privacy Stories of 2014

They say that privacy is a bargain that we make. Luckily, this year gave us new tools to help us negotiate.

The government is spying on us, as we know courtesy of Edward Snowden, and many companies are too, because we willingly let them when we accept the terms of privacy policies we don’t read in exchange for our use of one app or another. In the age of big data, celebrity cyberhacking, and companies like Uber, is privacy dead?

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Not so fast. This year, a growing number of technologists and researchers, artists and activists, and yes, even some companies themselves, are working to give us back our privacy by developing tools that push back against the creeping encroachment upon our lives. Take a new system out of MIT that could make it easier to chose what personal data we want to share, or a tool that will send you a kind note when the government infects your computer. Some ideas are more creative, such as DNA sanitizer or these fanciful designs for clothing that exposes your body as you expose yourself online.

They say that privacy is a bargain that we make. Hopefully at least with new tools, we’re going to have more leverage to help us negotiate. Read the year’s most interesting stories on privacy below.


1: What Happens When A Photographer Secretly Takes Over A Town’s Surveillance Camera

Networked devices like Nest promise a rosy “smart home” future. But the Internet of Things can also be really, really creepy.

2: MIT Wants You To Own Your Own Data, Not Give It Away

The new system, called OpenPDS, protects your privacy while still letting apps access information they need to work.

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3: This Tool Tells You When Governments Have Infected Your Computer

Because that iTunes update might not be what you think it is.

4: How You Shop Online Changes The Prices You See

Your purchase history and whether you use a mobile or desktop browser all can factor in large fluctuations in how much you pay.


5: DNA Sanitizer Will Wipe Your Identity Off Everything You Touch

Not just for hit men, these evidence-destroying sprays will protect you in a world where everyone wants to know your genetic code.

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6: 3 Ways Big Data Is Going To Be Used Against You In The Future

For some people, the benefits of big data will not be worth the risks—which could include increased workplace, police, and consumer discrimination.

7: This Privacy Policy Forced Users To Give Up Their Kids For Wi-Fi

And people said yes.


8: The More You Expose Yourself Online, The More This Bustier Exposes Your Bare Skin

In designer Xuedi Chen’s version of the online experience, the only way to keep yourself private (and your clothing opaque) is to turn off your phone.

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9: This Browser Extension Tells You What Your Online Ads Say About You

Floodwatch keeps track of every single ad you see online. The personal details they expose will surprise you.

10: Can Wearable Technology Prevent Murders?

Police departments are using GPS trackers to try and stop abusers from killing their current or former partners. But the technology won’t do it alone.


11: Don’t Want Drones In Your Space? Johnny Dronehunter Will Shoot Them Down For You

A Utah company is marketing its shotgun silencer through a fictional metalhead who shoots down drones for a living.

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About the author

Jessica Leber is a staff editor and writer for Fast Company's Co.Exist. Previously, she was a business reporter for MIT’s Technology Review and an environmental reporter at ClimateWire.

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