Online privacy: fact or fiction?

Does online privacy exist? Or is it just a myth created to lead us into a false sense of security.

Do you leave your curtains open at night with the lights on to allow everyone who walks past your house to look in and have a full glimpse of what you are up to? Online privacy is, to an extent, your own responsibility. How much do you want to share about yourself?

Many people are caught out by not reading the “small print”. In 2014, 73% of people admitted to not reading the terms and conditions, or fine print.  That is quite a staggering percentage. I will admit to being a proportion of that 73%. When faced with a small pop-up containing reams and reams of scrollable terms and conditions, it’s all too easy to click “I accept” comparable to being faced with an intimidating 40 sheets of paper with size 8 font.

Data sharing should be an “opt-in” as opposed to “opt-out” rule. Individuals are rightly concerned that the personal data is being used online.

Online apps that at face value, offer anonymity, have been investigated for breaking their privacy policies. Chamorro-Premuzic makes three claims; (1) People do not value their data as much as they say. (2) People want to feel in control, even if they are not. (3) People find it easier to trust businesses, than people.

I believe that this is because the internet does not have a “human face”. People are lured into a false sense of security, believing that they are safe because they are the only person to physically access their online account or device, without really understanding just how remote and global the internet is.

Ultimately, the main reason that companies want to collect your private or personal data online is to target you with targeted marketing using cookies and also more obvious things such as emails.

If you haven’t already seen it, watch Season 6, episode 17 “Undisclosed recipients” of The Good Wife or check out the recap. Whilst the show is a work of fiction, it encapsulates potential real life scenarios with regards to online safety and activity. Unless you are MI5/6, the FBI or equivalent, regardless of how much security you activate to protect your online privacy, you are at the same mercy to hackers as you are to burglars at your locked front door. There are always ways in. The online hacker network Anonymous, actively use proxy and doxxing.

We share so much of our personal information online, whether it’s information of a biographical nature or bank details, the potential to be held hostage to your information is always possible with the increasing number of hacktivists.

Online privacy is a fictitious concept. An individual’s online activity is as private as stripping in the middle of a tube carriage at rush hour.

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