Any personal information can become sensitive information

One day a stranger will be able to read your e-mail, look through your messages and the Web sites you’ve visited without having your permission. So, should you worry about your privacy and its importance?

Together with the development of technologies and markets, the concern of consumers’ privacy has risen (H. Liu, 2000). The Internet has become an integral part of our daily activities and a crucial player in the economy. The use of Internet became beneficial to marketers in analysing customer’s profiles, due to their electronic footprints left on every digital transaction:

  • Biometrics (fingerprints, facial recognition and voice)
  • Browser History (websites visited, calls and text messages sent or received)
  • Financial Information (Includes credit cards and transaction data)
  • Location (records of past and current location)
  • Personal files (photos, videos)

Hidden Information

Source: http://global.samsungtomorrow.com/?p=25932

Government organizations and marketers collect the necessary data about our activities via our smartphones (K. B. Sheehan, 2002). The Government is a two-side player. On one hand, it is trying to protect people’s privacy, but on the other hand, they seek to observe and control their personal lives. The GPS technology allows organizations to locate and notice our daily behaviour. It allows the companies to intrude our privacy zone. Therefore, we become not only easy Malte Spitztargets of advertising companies but also hostages of our personal life. An example of an ordinary victim of privacy violation is the German politician Malte Spitz, who reveals in a Ted Talk video how he had discovered that his own phone company was gathering information about his activity for a period of 6 months. The phone operator stocked data, included his daily geographical location (minute by minute location records) and the browser history (calls, messages, emails etc.) of the politician’s life.

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Alessandro Acquisti in “Why privacy matters”  Ted Talk is explaining that a radical change in people’s attitude towards privacy occurred within the past years. As an example, about 100 billion photos were shot in 2010, with a minor percent of them being uploaded, while in 2010 in just one month, about 2.5 billion photos were uploaded on Facebook only. Due to such an increase, the ability to recognize individuals in photos multiplied by 1000 times. The growth of the available facial data, combined with the developed facial recognition capability of devices may cause a crucial change in our privacy sphere. Each web user becomes a potential target of Internet criminal activities.

Internet lawbreakers and strangers noticed that teenagers are the most vulnerable and naïve group of users, which turns them into easy targets for immoral acts.

Indeed, 65% of this group aged 10 -13 years, are active Internet users. Current research demonstrates that 163 out of 166 websites don’t require parental involvement when personal teenagers’ data is gathered.

Now, the question is: how far are people willing to expose their private life?

It is surprising how cheap some individuals rate their online privacy. People easily expose their personal life on social media websites to strangers. A study showed that the average web consumer rates his privacy at only 50 Euro cents.

This threats to privacy cross the boundaries between our private and public life. While the technology is developing very fast and facilitates our lives, it may threaten our existence as individuals. We leave footprints behind us every single moment spent on the Internet (emails, messages, credit cards) or while using our cell phones (biometrics, location, personal data). Privacy is important to our daily activities. It is a part of our personality and decisions. We are to make our own decisions, to protect ourselves from being hurt and our life being exposed. Think about what may happen in 5 or 10 years, when everyone will have access to our personal information, when marketers will take advantage of our activities and without knowing, we will become marketing targets, and even worse- our decisions we’ll no longer belong to us, when our decisions will be ruled by someone else. Without privacy, we are close to become like Adam and Eve – when we realize that we aren’t wearing any clothes.

Any personal information can become sensitive information.

References:

  1. Liu H.: Internet Marketing, Consumer Surveillance and Personal Privacy: Social Exchange or Panoptic Control?,2000
  2. Sheehan K.B.: Toward a typology of Internet users and online privacy concerns, Information Society,2002
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