It’s human nature to desire knowledge and be curious about different things. Thanks to the Internet and social media, there is no limit to how much one can satisfy that desire. We have access to more information than we’ve ever had in the entire history of the human species. Most of this information appears to be free, but it may come at the cost of our online privacy.
Access to mountains of data at the palm of one’s hand is all good and well. But it comes at a cost. At the end of the day, even “free” data has to come from somewhere. Its flow has to be managed by someone. Read on as we explore the world of data flow and how it affects online privacy.
What is Online Privacy?
What is privacy? Privacy is the ability to basically live your life without worrying that someone is going to look over your shoulder. Online privacy means to browse the Internet without worrying that someone will snoop on your online activity for their own gain, or steal the information you share online.
Keep in mind that businesses are constantly trying to find ways to acquire information about Internet users. Numerous companies track your online activity and behavior. This information helps them to create ever more effective marketing campaigns. They can also develop tailored products and services that have a better chance of doing well on the market. Numerous parties use the Internet for such purposes including big brands, entities, governments, hackers, and cybercriminals alike.
It goes without saying that collecting, sharing and selling data is nothing new. It’s standard practice in the advertising world. There are even efforts to regulate this practice so that it doesn’t infringe on online privacy. Online privacy, after all, is the ability to use the web privately knowing that any information and sensitive data produced and/or shared during the process is kept safe and private.
But, that is idealistic thinking. Realistically, this isn’t always possible. When using the Internet, we constantly have to share our credentials in order to access most websites. In fact, most sites will hit you with an email newsletter subscription popup from the moment you get on the home page. Others won’t allow you to access their content without agreeing to accept their cookies. It’s almost impossible nowadays to use any website or online platform without giving up a little bit of your online privacy.
Just think about the process of signing up for a social media platform or buying from an e-commerce website, for example. Both processes require very specific, and often personal, information from you. The nature of this information is such that it could do serious damage if it falls into the wrong hands. Even moderate Internet users are not safe. This is because from the moment you sign into your email or perform a Google search, you’ve created a digital trail of information that leads unerringly back to you.
Is Online Privacy Vulnerable?
It doesn’t matter what you use the Internet for, how old you are or where you live. Online privacy is a major concern nowadays, and it’s not hard to see why. The more evolved the Internet becomes, the more website, applications, online platforms, and online services and products are available, the more apparent it becomes that online privacy is an issue. Despite this, an increasing number of people continue to sign up for social media and purchase online products and services. This way, they expose themselves even more to others online.
The Internet has, for the first time in history, given humanity the opportunity to connect people from all over the world. In a flash, you can connect to someone on the other end of the world. The downside to this is that you never know who you’re interacting with online. This is because people are known to misrepresent themselves online. Therefore, it’s essential to take whatever measures are necessary to protect one’s identity and privacy online. This includes credentials like your contact information, physical address, medical records, and financial data, to name but a few.
Attention: Read before you continue
Governments and ISPs across the world monitor their users online activities. If found streaming or browsing content on your Fire TV Stick, mobile or PC, you could get into serious trouble. Currently, your Location is visible to everyone:
- Your IP: 18.104.22.168
- Your Country: United States
- Your City: Ashburn
- Your ISP: Amazon Technologies Inc.
We strongly recommend you to get a good VPN and hide your identity so that your online experience doesn’t take a bad turn.
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The only way to guarantee your online privacy is to take a proactive approach on things. Realize that it is your responsibility to protect yourself online and keep your information private. Only you can control how much you share online, and yet most people don’t seem to limit the amount of data they put out there. They seem to be under the impression that the platforms they use online will protect them, but that is far from the truth.
As much as businesses have a responsibility to secure user information and only use it within certain bounds, users have an equal responsibility to take ownership of their own online safety and practice sound sharing practices.
Empower yourself with relevant information and learn about Internet rights. Although legislation surrounding online privacy is still developing, there is an opportunity for proactive Internet users to get involved and influence the way in which it is structured and implemented. The few cases of breached online privacy have already shown us the perils that come with a lack of vigilance.
For instance, take the famous Wikileaks case involving Julian Assange, or the Equifax hack of 2017 which involved the theft of over 143 million social security numbers of American citizens, or the Amazon expose of Facebook user information. It seems like every year there’s a new scandal that’s worse than the year before.
Lack of initiative towards one’s own online privacy could make you vulnerable to all kinds of online threats. This includes everything from malware to spyware, pharming, phishing, and fraud. These are some of the most common vehicles through which cybercriminals steal user identity and data for nefarious uses.
Do You Know Your Internet Rights?
The European Union has always been at the forefront of Internet legislation and user rights. The EU has gone so far as to impose fines on large corporations like Google. This is for failure to comply with some of its antitrust regulations.
Also known as the EU General Data Protection Regulation, the GDPR is designed to provide regulation for internet legislation and rights in modern-day Europe. It was approved by the European Union Parliament in 2016.
What measures have you taken to ensure your online privacy? Share with us in the comments below!