The internet has given accessibility to data and communication of knowledge a different dimension in cyberspace. The outbreak of the internet was a blessing of the technological world, giving a different perspective to the world we live in and revolutionising digital media forever. It is said that every advantage has a disadvantage as well. With the existence of internet, a major issue regarding the protection of privacy has risen.
With the development of hacking and phishing software, internet is no longer safe. Rather than protecting our identity, internet has restructured it, giving a new definition of privacy protection which depends on who uses it and how it is being used. Taking into account the examples of some of the major firms in the technological world, the issue of privacy protection on the internet will be addressed to. The way we communicate was completely transformed by the presence of social networking websites.
Nowadays, getting in touch with people is just a click away, while sharing information in a very unique way by sharing private information, photos, videos etc over the internet. But again, it leaves the user in a fix as to what information should be shared and what should hindered and if it is shared, to what extent is it safe over the internet. One such issue to be addressed is about Facebook, a website which has taken over the social networking business by storm. It has millions of users globally, majority of them being unaware of infringement of their privacy.
Even if the user decides to protect its privacy by changing the settings and limiting his/her profile, the data can still be viewed by the developers when the applications is installed, through the process of Data mining. Data mining through the development platform exposes information that might otherwise be hidden (i. e. , users with “private” profiles may still install applications). ”( Felt, Adrienne) Furthermore, it is found that developers are allowed to access the information even when there is no such requirement, “90. 7% of applications are being given more privileges than they need. ”(Felt, Adrienne) This survey only proves how ignorant Facebook developers have been which controlling third party applications, because according to the user, the information is safe.
This infringement breaks the law under Section 2 of Consumer internet privacy protection act of 1997 which states that “DISCLOSURE OF PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION WITHOUT CONSENT PROHIBITED“(Consumer Internet Privacy Protection Act of 1997) Users are very addicted to social networking websites; majority of them will still use them constantly even after such issues are raised. As an act of goodwill and responsibility Facebook should itself tighten up its privacy and security policies regarding such issues. If these concerns are not taken care of soon, the users will get of such websites at some time in the coming future.
Not to forget about millions of online transactions that take place every day through the use of credit cards. Online transactions made through eBay or amazon. com are usually safe because they use highly secure phishing software while processing the transactions. However, there exists a completely different scenario where transactions are made through fake credit cards. These credit cards are sold to people for a small amount of money and when the transactions are made using fake credit cards, all the important information is gathered about one’s personal account.
The J K Publications scam was for “Over forty million dollars. Somewhere around 900,000 victims across 22 countries. The biggest credit card fraud ever. Fraudulent credit card transactions generated using adult web site merchant accounts. ”( Faughnan, John G. ). Credit card numbers were purchased from Charter Pacific, a shady bank, further used for making bogus charged against consumers around the world. These numbers included access to all the important banking information of thousands of people and were later on forwarded to other fraudulent companies.
Therefore, once should be careful and do all the necessary research required before making online purchases. After a row of issues, Microsoft decided to integrate software in its upcoming browser, Internet Explorer 7 in order to track the website which tends to infringe users privacy on the internet. This software will prevent phishing, a process through which external third party websites can access users confidential information like bank information, address etc,. This step by Microsoft sounds pleasing until the features are exposed.
One of the 3 functions performed by this software has raised serious concerns, “ If the user chooses, Phishing Filter sends the addresses of web sites that a user attempts to visit to Microsoft to be checked against a frequently updated list of reported phishing sites. ”( Ingram, Mike. ) It is expected that if such software is being inbuilt and since the issues regarding protection of privacy have been alarming in the past, users might choose to send such information to Microsoft. When questioned about the use of confidential information, “We don’t store that information,” Greg Sullivan, Microsoft Windows group product manager, said.
This leaves the user in double dilemma, whether to be careful while using the internet or prevent phishing by forwarding the data to Microsoft. If the information is once sent to Microsoft with good faith in order to prevent crime, it might just end up using information for its own personal use, resulting in crime while preventing crime.. Clearly, this poses a threat to user’s private browsing information and such software should not be allowed to put into effect. A user can simply avoid phishing by using software which does not require access to user’s personal information or by being careful while sharing information over the internet.
To conclude it can be said that, while enjoying the benefits of internet, one should also make sure that they are not being cheated. “Even in the absence of a formal government policy, it is important that owners and operators of websites consider issues of privacy and protection of information”( Butler, Richard) Apart from the responsibility of website owners, it is also consumers duty to make sure that the safest options are being used while giving away confidential information. Consumers should report any kind of suspicious acts to the website owners in order to avoid scams and make internet safer.