In today’s society, privacy is a thing of the past. Anything you need to know, you can find on the Internet. According to Facebook founder Mark Zukerberg, “The rise of social networking online means that people no longer have an expectation of privacy. Privacy is no longer a social norm. People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people” (Johnson, 2010). Internet privacy or information privacy is a coveted social norm. Many people use the Internet daily for work, communication, and personal reasons.
There is a sense of false security for individuals on the Internet. Information is being sent globally in a matter of seconds, so how can you believe that your information is safe? Why would you want to put any information on the Internet at all? Knowing simple facts, like which activities reveal personal information, how others get information, and ways to safeguard privacy, may help average computer users stay safe and help keep personal information private. According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, “The Internet enables us to improve communication, erase physical barriers, and expand our education.
Its absorption into our society has been extraordinary” (2009). People are under the illusion that they can keep in touch with others from around the globe, while still remaining private. Internet privacy is the belief that you are safe in revealing certain personal information to certain people. According to Thomas Van Dyke, author at the International Journal of Security and Privacy, “Individuals are willing to participate in diverse activities online — from e-mailing friends and looking up personal medical information to purchasing a wide variety of goods and services.
While consumers benefit from their activities online, businesses also benefit from information gained while consumers browse” (2007). Social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, are well known for sharing information. Unless certain privacy options are in place on your page, others are wide open to finding you and whatever you have posted. Browsers, such as Internet Explorer and Firefox, track and record every site you visit on their Internet, making frequent history and cache clearing a necessary practice.
Search engines, such as Yahoo or Google, also do pretty much the same thing as browsers, recording every site you visit. Online banking is supposed to be more secure than other sites, but do you save your user name and password on your computer for easy access? In doing that, those names and numbers are saved and recorded. It doesn’t take much for a hacker or identity thief to get this information. You still may not be convinced that your privacy is in jeopardy. You may assume that the same laws or societal rules that protect your privacy in the physical world apply to the digital world as well” (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, 2009). They in fact do not. There are laws in place preventing government agencies from sharing information, but that very same information can be found online, where legal protection is scarce. For instance, even if you never go on to the Internet or any social sites, your personal information is still available. Have you ever gotten a traffic ticket, gone to court for any reason, or had prescriptions sent in to pharmacies?
Within a few minutes, this information can be available to any individuals who are looking for you on the Internet. According to Daniel B. Garrie and Liane Komagome, authors at the Journal of International Technology, “With today’s rapid rate of technological advancement, it is imperative that judicial systems around the world involve their legal systems to address the global problem of spyware. Because digital privacy is not limited to a specific geographical boundary, protection must be regarded as a global issue.
As society worldwide becomes more dependent on technology, the risk surrounding its misuse increases exponentially and demands greater awareness and action by the average citizen” (2008). Government agencies and health care organizations are required to maintain confidentiality, but small businesses and Web sites on the Internet are not. They are able to track every site you visit and actually sell your information to other sites without breaking any laws. Once you visit a site, all your information is fair game.
According to authors at the International Journal of Information Security and Privacy, “Exchange of information during communication creates opportunities for personal information to be exposed, either through an accident, such as inadvertently overhearing a conversation, or by design, as is the case with surreptitious ‘phishing’ strategies” (2008). Phishing is when you receive an e-mail or document that looks just like one you normally use and feel is safe, such as one with a familiar bank or college logo. The document asks for your private information, like an account number or password.
The average user would see no problem in this, but as soon as you reply, that information is being sent to a hacker who now has access to your personal information. Banks, colleges, doctors, and government agencies would never send e-mails like that. Do not fall for it. With all the risks involved, how can you protect yourself? There are many ways to secure your computers and Internet access, though none are fireproof. First, learn how to tell if a Web site is secure. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse states, “Look for the unbroken padlock at the bottom right of the screen.
Lastly, within your limited privacy boundaries, you have things like parental controls, where you can block certain sites and control what information gets into and out of the system. In conclusion, Internet privacy is something that many individuals are assuming they automatically have, when in actuality, they are simply unaware of the repercussions of sharing information on the Internet. Simply put, people have very limited control of their Internet privacy. Next time you visit sites on the Internet, do not be naive and assume you have privacy. Privacy is dependent on what you are willing to give up. Be knowledgeable and know the risks.