Internet privacy and safety: Did you access the internet today? If you’re reading this, then you’re obviously using it now.
How about yesterday, or the day before? When was the last time that you went through an entire day without using the internet at all?
I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer to that is ‘maybe a few years ago’. We can say that
After all, it’s our source of information, news, entertainment and most importantly, one of the most effective means of communication!
But as the use and importance of the internet have grown considerably with time, it has also created a few problems down the road.
The most significant concerns that have emerged in the digital world is that of safety and privacy.
Since the internet is accessible to almost everyone in a world of billions of people, it does become very difficult to maintain privacy online.
The fact that most people are quite unaware or ignorant of their own safety over the internet makes things even worse.
We stay quite alert when driving a car, or handling electric appliances, but the same level of alertness doesn’t come into our minds when browsing the web.
Keeping these things in mind, let’s try to increase our understanding of what internet privacy is, and more importantly, how it affects us.
What is the idea behind internet privacy?
In the real world, the meaning of ‘privacy’ remains quite ambiguous. There are no guidelines that state what aspects of our lives are to be considered public and what stays private.
Different individuals and communities perceive the concept of privacy differently.
But in the digital world, the concept of privacy is very clear. It focuses on one single factor – “protection of user data/information”.
The internet is, simply put, a globally connected network of the database.
Almost every action we perform over the web requires us to provide some sort of data, from something as simple as a name to crucial information like one’s bank details.
We use mobile phones to store loads of personal
Nowadays, there are even electrical appliances like television and refrigerators, surveillance and security systems – all connected to the internet.
With or without our knowledge, the internet continuously collects all sorts of data about us.
However, the websites or companies that collect these data do not do it forcefully or illegally.
We willingly choose to feed them the information and by doing so, we are providing our consent.
Then that lead us to the next question – if we are sharing these information by our own will, then..
How does the internet invade our privacy?
we simplify the concept of sharing any sort of information over the internet. The first party is you and me, the users who submit their data.
The second party is the website or organisation with whom we share our data.
This exchange that occurs between us and the second party is usually mandatory, and people are perfectly okay with it.
If there is some information we are not comfortable sharing, we can easily opt not to do so.
The company that receives the information from us stores it in their servers. It then becomes the responsibility of the company to keep our data safe and secure.
However, the issue of privacy arises when our personal information becomes accessible to any third party
Many websites and applications mentioned in their terms and conditions that they will be using our data for advertising purposes.
The second scenario is when our data is stolen by illegal means, what we can simply call as hacking.
In this case, the third party are hackers, which can be an individual or a group.
They can steal our personal data by illegal means, either directly from us or from the second party’s servers.
Though organisations and companies are usually targeted more often by hackers rather than individuals because bulk data can be stolen at once from their servers.
So it’s sad but true that our privacy is indeed at risk on the internet.
But how badly does this affect us? When companies sell our private data to third parties for marketing and advertising, it does not really harm us in any way.
At most, we will be bombarded with ads, promotional offers and emails.
There is no real danger because of this, and the worst case is that people may get seriously annoyed by intrusive ads everywhere.
That, however, does not make it acceptable and justified.
Many people take this matter seriously and rightfully so, because it’s certainly unsettling to know that our private information is being tossed around in the online world just so big companies can make big bucks.
The issue of hacking, on the other hand, can have dire consequences. Any person or group who resorts to illegal ways for obtaining information surely won’t intend to use it for a good purpose.
Some just want to make money by selling your data, or by obtaining your bank details.
Others may have more sinister motives in mind. The point is, if you or your information become the target of hackers, you’ll be in a lot of trouble.
Okay, let’s do a quick recap. The internet that we’ve grown so accustomed to in our daily lives actually seems to invade our privacy and risk our safety.
There are companies that sell our data without our knowledge or by coaxing us to ‘agree’, and this is mainly a matter of privacy rather than safety.
Then there is the possibility of being hacked, which is both a threat and a nuisance. That leaves us with one last thing to discuss.
How to ensure a safe internet experience?
The safety of our private data is our own responsibility, as well as that of the company we share it with.
These companies need to maintain advanced security protocols to keep their servers away from the reach of hackers.
There needs to be strict policies on how our data is handled, and companies should reach a clear understanding with their customers before selling their data to third parties.
But what matters more is what we can do from our side. Not everyone is a computer geek or a networking expert, and most of us only have a basic knowledge of the internet.
So the most important action is to build self-awareness in this matter.
Individuals like us are such an easy target for hackers mainly because we are very much ignorant on this issue, and we never see ourselves as a target of hacking.
With a little bit of awareness and research, we can learn to identify what can and cannot be trusted in the online world.
That is the first and crucial step one needs to take for a safer internet experience.