“Dear Internet User,
I know you – your name, what you look like, your family tree, your friends, places you have visited, where you are now, your interests, your educational background, your credit history, your health issues. How do I know all this? You told me. With every website visit, photo upload, status update, online purchase and email or chat, you added to my database of knowledge on you.
Whether you actively posted your information online through social networking or my cookies tracked your browsing history, you enabled me to access everything I know about you.
Why should you care if your digital data is available to me? I readily expose your information to marketers who will bombard you with advertisements based on your interests, government agencies suspecting you of committing a crime, insurance companies so that they can find out as much about your health concerns as possible and hackers who can get into your cloud data or steal your identity to commit credit card fraud. I also let stalkers discover your location or use facial recognition data to find you and track your whereabouts.
What do you mean you were not aware of your online privacy? Why are you worried? I like you. You are not one of those self-acclaimed “smart users of technology” who actually “determine for themselves when, how and to what extent information about them is communicated to others”.
They rush to get privacy tools and privacy software which inhibit the flow of vital information to third parties, but you, you let me own who you are based on the vast amount of data I gather on you.
Regards, Search engines, websites and your favourite devices”
If our current technology could speak to us, it would most likely sound like the above letter. According to the convergence trend in Information Technology, the divisions between the various aspects of our lives are being broken down. As a result, the pool of data on each of us continues to expand as systems controlling telecommunications, health care records, transportation, financial services and law enforcement merge. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy…everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”. Yet many of us are not aware of our right to privacy or to the means of achieving privacy control such as by installing privacy tools and privacy software such as PrivacySnappper.com.
The first step to solving online privacy is awareness. In 1995, less than 1% of the world population had internet access. This percentage has now risen to 40%. It is therefore increasingly necessary for persons to be conscious of the need to address online privacy threats and take the necessary steps to protect their information.
About Alyssa Mike
Alyssa is one of the genii of Trinidad who won a scholarship for Stanford University. Prior to Privacy Shell, Alyssa played important roles such as President of SJC UNESCO.