Are We Really Afraid Of Privacy? The BBM Private Chat Scenario

I woke up this morning thinking of how the new BBM private chat works, I decided to set up a private chat with my friend Femi, who is paranoid about privacy and security to see if the ‘Chat’ would really be private and we also wanted to test the features.

Then, while chatting, Femi said something that got my attention:

“We humans are afraid of privacy, we keep building apps to secure our privacy”,

I thought to myself, are we really afraid of privacy or are we just paranoid that our our privacy is now being taken for granted with the advent of screenshots and friends sharing private conversations publicly when a disagreement occurs?

Most internet users do not know where to draw the line when it comes to privacy and freedom.

One of Dictionary.com’s definition of privacy is;

freedom from damaging publicity, public scrutiny, secret surveillance,or unauthorized disclosure of one’s personal data or information, as by a government, corporation, or individual: Ordinary citizens have qualified right to privacy.

Legal Dictionary has 2 different definition for Privacy

In Constitutional Law, the right of people to make personal decisions regarding intimate matters; under theCommon Law, the right ofpeople to lead their lives in a manner that is reasonably secluded from public scrutiny, whether such scrutiny comes from a neighbor’s prying eyes, an investigator’s eavesdropping ears, or a news photographer’s intrusive camera; and in statutory law, the right of people to be free from unwarranted drug testing and Electronic Surveillance.

I’m not a lawyer so I won’t try to bore you with all these definitions, but it is very important that we understand these things 🙂

I didn’t use to think Privacy was a big deal until 2013 when I attended my organization’s first Internet Policy Training when one of the Facilitators asked if we were willing to give up our privacy for security, using the security situation in the North-East of Nigeria as an example.

Now let’s not go too far, it is now very common to see friends and maybe lovers share private conversations they exchanged in trust publicly on the internet when a disagreement occurs, these acts are total breach of trust and privacy and such acts should be condemned.  Lovers now share nudes of estranged partners all because they left them hanging and also to get public sympathy.

BBM Private chat
Photo credit: Mobility Arena

The scenario cited above and others are reasons why we (Internet users especially) should take privacy seriously and embrace messaging platforms that protect our freedom and privacy as much as we can. These days, I’m weary of people I share certain information with via Twitter DM or any other messaging platforms.

Below are some of the cool features could identify on the BBM private chat;

  1. Screenshots of chats can’t be taken
  2. Private chat times out if inactive for about 60 seconds
  3. Media files (pictures, videos, music etc) shared during chat can’t be saved
  4. Messages can also be timed and retracted
  5. Messages can’t also be copied for use outside the private chat platform

I am not an expert in this field yet but I hope I have been able to to pass a message across 🙂 , but would you give up your privacy even if you don’t have anything to hide?