5 Reasons Why Online Privacy is a Thing of the Past

Maximilian Ransome IPT written task 5 Reasons Why Online Privacy is a Thing of the Past

The internet is a network of information which can be used for business, social networking, entertainment and more. The internet is used by billions of people who create data by simply browsing the web, purchasing online and posting on forums. This data is collected by many organizations such as search engines, internet providers and web sites. This data is kept in large data bases for safe keeping.

  1. Cookies/ data profiling

Cookies used by internet servers to track your internet patterns. When you browse the web you call up information from a server, that server sends files to you from various places in order for your browser to have all the necessary ingredients to make a replica of the web page you requested. The cookies are slipped into your browser during this process and web page disappears when you leave it but the cookies stay and report back whenever you revisit that same server. Cookies collect data about the host on what web sites that user visits this is used by marketers to learn more about a particular user and what they may be more likely to buy and adjusts the servers advertising accordingly for the next time you visit the server. Cookies are collected by unsuspecting victims so dozens can be accumulated from casual online browsing. This may seem like a nuisance cookies can lead into an increase in targeted marketing and just more advertisements in general. If your identity becomes known to a company listed in your cookies file this can be linked to a cookie in your browser so the data the cookie collects could be linked directly to you and possibly be retained by the server long after the cookie is deleted off of your web browser. Once this data is collected by the server they can do whatever they want with it, which always has the potential for abuse such as selling this data to marketers. Cookies are general concern to most internet users as they don’t like the idea of private organizations monitoring their internet usage but this would most likely not impact you outside cyber space.

  1. Personal data stored by websites

Large internet companies like to keep record of all the searches and emails they do and link these searches to users and location. Search engines can do this because you give your information to them every time you use their services such as your internet protocol (IP) so these companies may so freely monitor your browsing habits. Companies such as yahoo, google and Facebook can collect personal information about anyone who uses their service (which is billions of people) and link that information to location, time and user which can be used to identify the exact human querying the search engine. A search engine takes all of its users and assigns a specific ID number so data bases can record where the users has travelled to with the use of profiling the user. By recording the users queries companies can know a lot about the user and with hundreds of millions of users this data can be valuable. In 2014 google gave a person’s private emails to the NCMEC “National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a tip from Google that he had three pornographic images of children in his email” (Samantha Murphy Kelly, Aug 05, 2014). This shows that companies give up users’ private information. The data given to crime investigators and government intelligence agencies so they can investigate crimes and terrorism which is arguably in the interest of the general public.

  1. Government data bases

Large government databases are places of storage for data such as weather recordings, car registration, census data and also personal information of its citizens. This data is more accessible to government departments. Government data bases are essential for running the country as it provides intelligence for government departments to act on situations such as. If a Centrelink customer were to lie about their relationship status in order to receive more benefits, Centrelink could review a government data base on their personal details to clarify this could result in the government saving money. These data bases may get private information through businesses, facebook accounts, and metadata retention (which is recording phone calls/ web searches). With employees working with these data bases poses a threat to anyone’s privacy as they could snoop on anyone they want and find personal information on that subject such as financial details, medical records, credit history and phone numbers; employees have been caught doing this before “Snoopers have been caught looking up personal data such as financial details, medical records, credit history, phone numbers, etc..” (moodle, 2015). The largest data collector is the United States government department the NSA (national security agency) which has the goss on over a billion people by intercepting telephone and internet communications of citizens irrespective of country.

  1. Location tracking

Location-sensitive features in mobile devices are widespread nowadays being incorporated into many things such as cars and cell phones. Most mobile devices can communicate satellites, cell towers and Wi-Fi network with location sensitive features this lets everyone know your location in time and space. This effects your privacy as organizations can pinpoint where you live and even you location in real time. The advertisements can not only be tailored to your search preferences but to your location as well giving marketers more information for a user’s profile. This could be an unsettling problem for billions as it is a step up from cookies and more invasive on people private life. Location tracking could be compared to a parasite, feeding off the data you create without your knowledge like this incident in 2013. “Up to 100 million users downloaded a popular Android app that turned their phones into flashlights. What they didn’t realize was that their smartphones also became sophisticated tracking devices, with the app collecting information that could pinpoint their precise location.”(Cecilia Kang, December 5, 2013). Sure location tracking is mostly harmless but it’s a step forward from collecting a user’s search preferences and a step backward for people’s privacy.

  1. Biometrics

Biometrics are the recording of human features such as finger print, face and DNA to link with that same human’s name. Examples of biometrics are taking a criminals finger print and recording it, a driver’s license and a passport. This is a threat to your privacy as is records your personal features and if this is stored digitally by a private organization it could be sold to third parties and even linked to your search preferences and location in real time creating a complete data profile of any user. This is a terrible idea as anyone under this massive umbrella of data collection basically has their full privacy on the free market for any one or organization to exploit. In my opinion biometric data collection should be strictly limited to 100% government run organizations and used to run the country or fight crime as peoples information once gathered could be stored anywhere in cyberspace. Biometrics are useful with some night clubs adopting its benefits “Hotel Cremorne on the lower north shore. Since November the nightclub has required guests to submit to a photograph and ID scan” (Saffron Howden, March 7, 2010).

How can you avoid privacy invasion online

People cannot have complete privacy online because the data user’s as a whole created online is very valuable and needs to be used to benefit the general population such as stopping crime and terrorism. You cannot stop governments, large internet companies (that you use) and your internet provider from monitoring your internet usage but you can stop the inconveniences of privacy invasion online. The inconveniences of privacy invasion online can be stopped, so recommend changing you browser settings to stop cookies and turn off any location tracking on your devices so that you will avoid targeted ads.


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