Earlier today, a story crossed my feed that gave me pause. A woman became the victim of harassment all because she placed an order for delivery.
Michelle, a 33-year-old woman from the UK, decided to order in for dinner last week. After accepting the delivery and enjoying her meal, she received a message through WhatsApp from an unknown person. It ended up being the person that had just recently been at her front door delivering the food. She posted the chat exchange to her Twitter:
Just a snippet of Just Eat’s response to my receiving unsolicited messages from the guy who had just delivered my food. Nice one Just Eat! Apart from him using my number in this way surely being in breach of privacy laws etc, they don’t really seem to take it seriously do they?? pic.twitter.com/OVZkl0IW5f
— Michelle Midwinter (@ShelbyTree) January 15, 2018
“See you next time when I get your meal.” Just meditate on that for a moment and look at it from the perspective of someone who may, occasionally, be home alone when they order take out. It’s threatening, and scary.
Now, it’s not odd that this person had her contact information. It’s standard to give out your phone number when ordering online, so the driver can call you if there’s a problem finding your residence. The breach happened when that driver took her private information and crossed the professional service boundary to try and “connect” more personally. Furthermore, the driver compounded the egregious transgression: he didn’t just send her a text message. He added her information to a social messaging app service, which connected him to her profile, and then messaged her there. This implies familiarity and bumps the creep factor up an exponent or five.
Michelle is handling this incredibly well, using it as a platform to educate and advocate for privacy and propriety. She even pulled in ICO, the agency in place in the UK with the mission to uphold the data privacy of an individual.
— ICO (@ICOnews) January 16, 2018
The truly frightening part is that Michelle reportedly found out that the driver has done this before. Other women came forward on social media after she shared her story. It was a pattern of behavior for him to so completely disregard the privacy of the consumers. Because he had their phone number, and because an app allows a veil of familiarity through their instant messaging platform, he was able to repeatedly harass women who just tried to save themselves a night of cooking or going out.
There’s an argument out there that our privacy has become extinct, because of social media. I refuse to believe that our rights should be disregarded or devalued because we choose to communicate in scope. We could argue the apps are at fault, or that the infrastructure should be more robust, or that the hiring process be more in depth. But the real issue here is that our privacy has become a non-issue. The value of our personal data has dissipated to such a degree that people no longer find issue with breaching our privacy to try and “make friends.”
So, how do we fight to maintain our privacy in a world that undervalues it?