Digital privacy is the right that any user of the web has to decide which personal data they want to share and which they want to keep safe to protect their privacy.
The concept of digital privacy emerged at the same time as the internet and its ability to collect and share data.
In this sense, the protection of personal information on the network has become a topic of general interest as communication possibilities increase. Similarly, the amount of information and content that can be sent, received and disseminated increases the chances that such data will be intercepted by third parties.
Internet privacy features
When a user browses the web, he leaves a “fingerprint” or a trace of the actions he performs. In this sense, digital privacy implies certain characteristics, such as carrying out certain tasks or sharing any of these data:
- Full name.
- Home address.
- Number of personal identification.
- Bank data.
- Email addresses.
- Photos, videos or personal audios.
- Answer digital surveys that ask for personal data.
- Make purchases online.
- Use customer service digitally (emails, chats, private messages)
- Share geolocation.
Companies that request this type of data or tasks can archive this information and use it for commercial purposes (creating user profiles, understanding purchasing decisions, improving the user experience, etc.).
However, although many of these companies or internet providers assure that the handling of personal data is confidential, there is no way to know it. In fact, there are cases in which companies have been discovered that sell the information of their users to third parties or situations in which a data leak occurs, which allows information that should be private to circulate freely on the internet.
On the other hand, not only companies can make use of personal data without user authorization. The hackers can find information on the Internet and use it for criminal purposes, such as stealing bank passwords or usurp identities to commit fraud.
Examples of digital privacy
There are several alternatives that allow users to protect their personal data when surfing the net. These are some of them:
The cookies are files that web pages are stored on the device and allow the user to make a tracking your online activity. For this reason, in several laws it is contemplated that companies inform users that they are using cookies and ask them for permission to have access to their personal data.
These are legal documents in which digital companies or internet providers inform users about their internal policies regarding the use they give to their personal data.
The privacy policies always include a box or option for the user to state that they have read and accepted the terms of said policies.
Right to be forgotten
The right to be forgotten is one of the most important initiatives that have been created to protect the privacy of personal data on the internet. In essence, it is the right of every user to ask internet service providers (web pages, providers, search engines) to remove their personal data from the web.
This right only applies when the user’s data was used improperly or when the information displayed is out of date.
Advantages and disadvantages
Advantages of digital privacy:
- Increase information security and protect against fraud, cyberattacks such as hacks or identity theft .
- Decide what our digital identity is, that is, the image that the internet projects of us to other users
- Allow only those users, companies or service providers to whom we have given our consent to access our data.
- Adapt the content, products or services offered to us to our profile and our interests.
- Increasing public awareness of the importance of protecting personal data on the internet.
Disadvantages of digital privacy:
- The Internet is an immense network, in which a huge amount of data circulates. Therefore, trying to control all this flow of information is not a realistic goal. As they say, it would be like putting doors to the field.
- It conflicts with the interests of large companies and corporations. Many of these companies have enormous power and prefer to face the payment of fines rather than heed the privacy regulations dictated by governments.
- There are still many people who do not understand the importance of protecting digital information. Many people continue to accept terms and conditions of use without reading them.
- Past generations find it difficult to adapt to the new demands in this field, as the digital age is rapidly advancing and does not wait for anyone.
Problems and risks
Posting sensitive information on the internet can lead to various problems related to digital privacy.
- Personal data : providing information such as real name, telephone number or ID is a big mistake as it could lead to identity theft.
- Email: leaving the email address anywhere increases the chances of receiving a large amount of spam or junk mail.
- Bank details: You should never give your bank details to anyone you don’t trust, or else you could put your money at risk.
- Geographical location: other data such as your home address or whether or not you are at home could put your home at risk, as well as your safety and that of those who live with you.
- Photographs and videos: you have to be very careful with what type of photographs are sent and where they are published. It would not be the first time someone has been extorted with photos of a sexual nature or that someone has lost their job due to compromised images.
Speaking more of specific terms and practices, these would be some of the main risks of digital privacy:
- Phishing: it is a method of computer abuse that consists of fraudulently obtaining confidential information to impersonate the identity of a user.
- Spam: it is defined as the massive reception of spam e-mails.
- Viruses and Trojans: these are programs that sneak into the user’s computer to carry out unsolicited actions: theft of information, erasure of data, etc. They can be camouflaged within seemingly harmless programs or applications.
- Cyberbullying: cyberbullying or virtual harassment consists of the use of the internet or social networks to threaten, harass or blackmail a person.