rDigital News: Changes to the NSA, Digital Overload, and more

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Photo credit: WikiCommons
Photo credit: WikiCommons

Online privacy, or the lack there of, has dominated recent headlines but according to this week’s news, things are starting to change. After meeting with tech leaders last week, Obama took action to modify the U.S. government’s surveillance practices to protect the privacy of its citizens. However, the question remains, in our digital age, is true online privacy a realistic expectation?

Perhaps going off the grid and unplugging is the healthiest, and potentially most secure, option for happiness.

Find out more in this week’s edition of rDigital News:

Changes to NSA surveillance policies

“I don’t think there’s any doubt now that the NSA or other agencies monitor or record almost every telephone call made in the United States, including cellphones, and I presume email as well,” Jimmy Carter told The Associated Press in an interview. “We’ve gone a long way down the road of violating Americans’ basic civil rights, as far as privacy is concerned.”

And the former U.S. president is not the only one voicing concerns over the NSA’s surveillance practices. In response to the public outcry over the lack of online privacy, Obama recommended Tuesday that the government seek information from existing phone company records, held for 18 months, rather than the sweeping surveillance methods of the NSA. “Policies have to change so we win back the trust of citizens, but that’s not going to happen overnight,” the President said at the summit on nuclear security in the Netherlands. According to the article on CBC, this proposed policy change would end the government’s practice of collecting phone records en mass.

Is this the answer that US citizens have been looking for?

In a new interactive report, the Associated Press dissects Obama’s proposal to end NSA phone tapping and compares it to the original recommendations made by a commission last year, giving readers an in-depth look at the state of their online privacy.

For more on digital privacy, check out our series with The Walrus.

The Globe and Mail’s Digital Overload Series

Technology is supposed to make our lives simpler, but has it? 

That is the question posed by the Globe’s Erin Anderssen and the central focus of a week-long investigation into our technology habits. In the first article, published Sunday, Anderssen investigates our culture of distraction, trying to keep up with our smartphones, social networks, and the latest viral content all that the same time.

“There’s this idea that’s become popular, this idea of a “fear of missing out.” People are very concerned that there’s a dialogue or conversation going on (that they aren’t part of.),” said Shane Hankins, the COO of a New York think tank and the founder of the National Day of Unplugging in his interview with rdigitaLIFE.

For more on Hankins’ take on digital distraction and the idea of unplugging, check out his interview here:

Hacking Happiness

In other news regarding our digital wellbeing, futurist and Mashable contributor John C. Havens has released a new book entitled Hacking Happiness: Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking it Can Change the World. The book, published March 20, 2014, explores the data bargain we make, providing gigabytes of information about our behaviour online and how this practice can be hacked to reveal insights about your deeper joys in life.

For more from John Havens, check out his H(app)y interview:


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