Internet privacy is the privacy and security level of personal data published via the Internet. It is a broad term that refers to a variety of factors, techniques and technologies used to protect sensitive and private data, communications, and preferences.
Internet privacy and anonymity are paramount to users, especially as e-commerce continues to gain traction. Privacy violations and threat risks are standard considerations for any website under development.
Internet privacy is also known as online privacy.
Internet privacy involves the right or mandate of personal privacy concerning the storing, repurposing, provision to third parties, and displaying information pertaining to oneself via of the Internet. Internet privacy is a subset of data privacy. Privacy concerns have been articulated from the beginnings of large-scale computer sharing.
Privacy can entail either Personally Identifying Information (PII) or non-PII information such as a site visitor’s behavior on a website. PII refers to any information that can be used to identify an individual. For example, age and physical address alone could identify who an individual is without explicitly disclosing their name, as these two factors are unique enough to identify a specific person typically.
Levels of privacy:
Internet and digital privacy are viewed differently from traditional expectations of privacy. Internet privacy is primarily concerned with protecting user information. Privacy within the realm of decision is best illustrated by the landmark case Roe v. Wade. Lastly, information privacy is in regards to the collection of user information from a variety of sources, which produces great discussion.
People with only a casual concern for Internet privacy need not achieve total anonymity. Internet users may protect their privacy through controlled disclosure of personal information. The revelation of IP addresses, non-personally-identifiable profiling, and similar information might become acceptable trade-offs for the convenience that users could otherwise lose using the workarounds needed to suppress such details rigorously.On the other hand, some people desire much stronger privacy. In that case, they may try to achieve Internet anonymity to ensure privacy — use of the Internet without giving any third parties the ability to link the Internet activities to personally-identifiable information of the Internet user.
Posting things on the Internet can be harmful or in danger of malicious attack. Some information posted on the Internet is permanent, depending on the terms of service, and privacy policies of particular services offered online.It is absorbed into cyberspace and once it is posted, anyone can potentially find it and access it. Some employers may research a potential employee by searching online for the details of their online behaviours, possibly affecting the outcome of the success of the candidate.
Risks to Internet privacy:
Companies are hired to watch what internet sites people visit, and then use the information, for instance by sending advertising based on one’s browsing history. There are many ways in which people can divulge their personal information, for instance by use of “social media” and by sending bank and credit card information to various websites.Moreover, directly observed behaviour, such as browsing logs, search queries, or contents of the Facebook profile can be automatically processed to infer potentially more intrusive details about an individual, such as sexual orientation, political and religious views, race, substance use, intelligence, and personality.
Several social networking sites try to protect the personal information of their subscribers. On Facebook, for example, privacy settings are available to all registered users: they can block certain individuals from seeing their profile, they can choose their “friends”, and they can limit who has access to one’s pictures and videos. Privacy settings are also available on other social networking sites such as Google Plus and Twitter. The user can apply such settings when providing personal information on the internet.
The privacy concerns of Internet users pose a serious challenge (Dunkan, 1996; Till, 1997). In an online survey conducted, approximately seven out of ten individuals responded that what worries them most is their privacy over the Internet than over the mail or phone. Internet privacy is slowly but surely becoming a threat, as a person’s personal data may slip into the wrong hands if passed around through the Web.
Flash cookies, also known as Local Shared Objects, work the same ways as normal cookies and are used by the Adobe Flash Player to store information at the user’s computer. They exhibit a similar privacy risk as normal cookies, but are not as easily blocked, meaning that the option in most browsers to not accept cookies does not affect Flash cookies. One way to view and control them is with browser extensions or add-ons. Flash cookies are unlike HTTP cookies in a sense that they are not transferred from the client back to the server. Web browsers read and write these cookies and can track any data by web usage.
An HTTP cookie (also called web cookie, Internet cookie, browser cookie, or simply cookie) is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user’s computer by the user’s web browser while the user is browsing. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember stateful information (such as items added in the shopping cart in an online store) or to record the user’s browsing activity (including clicking particular buttons, logging in, or recording which pages were visited in the past). They can also be used to remember arbitrary pieces of information that the user previously entered into form fields such as names, addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers.
Some anti-fraud companies have realized the potential of evercookies to protect against and catch cyber criminals. These companies already hide small files in several places on the perpetrator’s computer but hackers can usually easily get rid of these. The advantage to evercookies is that they resist deletion and can rebuild themselves.
There is controversy over where the line should be drawn on the use of this technology. Cookies store unique identifiers on a person’s computer that are used to predict what one wants. Many advertisement companies want to use this technology to track what their customers are looking at online.
Privacy issues of social networking sites:
The advent of the Web 2.0 has caused social profiling and is a growing concern for Internet privacy. Web 2.0 is the system that facilitates participatory information sharing and collaboration on the Internet, in social networking media websites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and MySpace. These social networking sites have seen a boom in their popularity starting from the late 2000s. Through these websites many people are giving their personal information out on the internet.
It has been a topic of discussion of who is held accountable for the collection and distribution of personal information. Some will say that it is the fault of the social networks because they are the ones who are storing the vast amounts of information and data, but others claim that it is the users who are responsible for the issue because it is the users themselves that provide the information in the first place. This relates to the ever-present issue of how society regards social media sites. There is a growing number of people that are discovering the risks of putting their personal information online and trusting a website to keep it private. Yet in a recent study, researchers found that young people are taking measures to keep their posted information on Facebook private to some degree.
This shows that once information is online it is no longer completely private. It is an increasing risk because younger people are having easier internet access than ever before, therefore they put themselves in a position where it is all too easy for them to upload information, but they may not have the caution to consider how difficult it can be to take that information down once it is out in the open. This is becoming a bigger issue now that so much of society interacts online which was not the case fifteen years ago. No matter the situation it is beneficial to know about the potential consequences and issues that can come from careless activity on social networks.
HTML5 is the latest version of Hypertext Markup Language specification. HTML defines how user agents, such as web browsers, are to present websites based upon their underlying code. This new web standard changes the way that users are affected by the internet and their privacy on the internet. HTML5 expands the numHTML5 also expands access to user media, potentially granting access to a computer’s microphone or webcam, a capability previously only possible through the use of plug-ins like Flash.It is also possible to find a user’s geographical location using the geolocation API. With this expanded access comes increased potential for abuse as well as more vectors for attackers. If a malicious site was able to gain access to a user’s media, it could potentially use recordings to uncover sensitive information thought to be unexposed. As such, privacy risks are increased. For instance, merely erasing cookies may not be enough to remove potential tracking methods since data could be mirrored in web storage, another means of keeping information in a user’s web browser. There are so many sources of data storage that it is challenging for web browsers to present sensible privacy settings. As the power of web standards increases, so do potential misuses.
Besides elevating privacy concerns, HTML5 also adds a few tools to enhance user privacy. A mechanism is defined whereby user agents can share blacklists of domains that should not be allowed to access web storage.
Big Data is generally defined as the rapid accumulation and compiling of massive amounts of information that is being exchanged over digital communication systems. The data is large (often exceeding exabytes) and cannot be handled by conventional computer processors, and are instead stored on large server-system databases.
Infer detailed psycho-demographic profiles of internet users, even if they were not directly expressed or indicated by users.
Inspect product availability and optimize prices for maximum profit while clearing inventory.
Swiftly reconfigure risk portfolios in minutes and understand future opportunities to mitigate risk.
Send tailored recommendations to mobile devices at just the right time, while customers are in the right location to take advantage of offers.
Analyze data from social media to detect new market trends and changes in demand.
Use clickstream analysis and data mining to detect fraudulent behavior.
Concerns of Internet privacy and real life implications:
While dealing with the issue of internet privacy, one must first be concerned with not only the technological implications such as damaged property, corrupted files, and the like, but also with the potential for implications on their real lives. One such implication, which is rather commonly viewed as being one of the most daunting fears risks of the Internet, is the potential for identity theft. Although it is a typical belief that larger companies and enterprises are the usual focus of identity thefts, rather than individuals, recent reports seem to show a trend opposing this belief.
While the processes these internet thieves use are abundant and unique, one popular trap unsuspecting people fall into is that of online purchasing. This is not to allude to the idea that every purchase one makes online will leave them susceptible to identity theft, but rather that it increases the chances.Protections against invasions of online privacy will require individuals to make an effort informing and protecting themselves via existing software solutions, to pay premiums for such protections or require individuals to place greater pressure on governing institutions to enforce privacy laws and regulations regarding consumer and personal information.
Internet privacy in the United States:
US Republican senator Jeff Flake spearheaded an effort to pass legislation allowing ISPs and tech firms to sell private customer information, such as their browsing history, without consent.
With the Republicans in control of all three branches of the U.S. government, lobbyists for Internet service providers (ISPs) and tech firms persuaded lawmakers to dismantle regulations to protect privacy which had been made during the Obama administration. These FCC rules had required ISPs to get “explicit consent” before gathering and selling their private Internet information, such as the consumers’ browsing histories, locations of businesses visited and applications used.
Trade groups wanted to be able to sell this information for profit. Lobbyists persuaded Republican senator Jeff Flake and Republican representative Marsha Blackburn to sponsor legislation to dismantle Internet privacy rules;
Used by government agencies are array of technologies designed to track and gather Internet users’ information are the topic of much debate between privacy advocates, civil liberties advocates and those who believe such measures are necessary for law enforcement to keep pace with rapidly changing communications technology.
Following a decision by the European Union’s council of ministers in Brussels, in January 2009, the UK’s Home Office adopted a plan to allow police to access the contents of individuals’ computers without a warrant. The process, called “remote searching”, allows one party, at a remote location, to examine another’s hard drive and Internet traffic, including email, browsing history and websites visited. Police across the EU are now permitted to request that the British police conduct a remote search on their behalf.
Children and Internet Privacy:
Internet privacy is a growing concern with children and the content they are able to view. Aside from that, many concerns for the privacy of email, the vulnerability of internet users to have their internet usage tracked, and the collection of personal information also exist. These concerns have began to bring the issues of internet privacy before the courts and judges.
While internet privacy is widely acknowledged as the top consideration in any online interaction, as evinced by the public outcry over SOPA/CISPA, public understanding of online privacy policies is actually being negatively affected by the current trends regarding online privacy statements. Users have a tendency to skim internet privacy policies for information regarding the distribution of personal information only, and the more legalistic the policies appear, the less likely users are to even read the information. Coupling this with the increasingly exhaustive license agreements companies require consumers to agree to before using their product, consumers are reading less about their rights.
Furthermore, if the user has already done business with a company, or is previously familiar with a product, they have a tendency to not read the privacy policies that the company has posted. As internet companies become more established, their policies may change, but their clients will be less likely to inform themselves of the change. This tendency is interesting because as consumers become more acquainted with the internet they are also more likely to be interested in online privacy.
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