With so much of personal information online and accessible by law enforcement and many marketers, the only control we have over our data is ourselves.Privacy is a state where an individual can work on his/her information in seclusion, with an objective of revealing their identity or information to selective individuals. Privacy also means to stay in a state of anonymity. With the internet pervading into people’s lives where a vast amount of information can be created, stored, accessed and retrieved, the need for internet privacy came up. Internet privacy is the control one has over what information about oneself, the individual wants to disclose.
The first thing that comes to mind when we talk about the internet is the use of social networking sites, email facilities and the surfing of various other websites. Internet privacy comes up when online users provide their personal information over the internet. Issues regarding internet privacy arise from a number of factors, including:
- Online shopping sites that are made to obtain users’ credit card numbers.
- Whether third parties, on emailing sites, should be allowed to store or read emails without informed consent.
- Whether or not, third parties should be allowed to track the visitors of a website.
- Whether the websites that gather personally identifiable information from the users should store or share it.
In this post, we will try to raise some of the controversial questions that users usually pose.
Is website tracking by ISP a right practice?
The objective of internet privacy is not to maintain complete anonymity of the user. It intends to maintain a controlled disclosure of one’s personal information. Internet service providers (ISP) keep track of user’s IP address each time the user accesses the web. This is not considered a wrong practice, because of the immense cybercrimes that are occurring all over the world. ISPs have to record the IP address and the user details to keep record of users in case of any illegal practices conducted on the internet. The disclosure of these forms of information is acceptable. This is important because this is the means by which website track the users’ internet activities.
Is it right to allow users to use the Internet with a fake or an anonymous identity?
Some social media sites allow users to fake their profile to access their services. Some might consider this a right practice because they are free to discuss, opine and post any comment in forums, chat rooms, communities and blogs, keeping their true identity in anonymity. This raises issues in research ethics pertaining to the privacy of research subjects and informed consent. This is an undue advantage of the Internet privacy whereby the border between the private and the public spaces is made blurred. While providing open platforms for discussions, the Internet is ironically becoming a stage where fake people can voice false opinions and foster fallacies.
Are all my data at risk online?
Not all websites are prone to information misuse. For example, there are banking sites that have robust protection features of securing the information you provide online. To protect one’s information, one has to be careful of what to provide and what not to provide, examine where you are providing your information, know how your information may be handled.
To learn more about how to protect your privacy online, you can visit Safe Space website.