Do You Have It and How Do You Guard It?
The right to privacy seems like an essential part of existence in the United States. New technology steps on that right at almost every turn. It’s likely your privacy has been slightly invaded in the last few minutes, assuming you’ve been browsing the Internet. While most U.S. government entities agree every individual has a right to privacy on the Internet, recent policies and innovations make it clear that those rights are an ever-moving target.
Possible Privacy Breaches Online
Information about you, your computer, and your Internet activity is logged by Internet Service Providers, search engines, social media platforms, and a host of other agencies. One reason for the breach in privacy is national security. The government uses data about Internet activity in an attempt to locate illegal activity or terrorism. From child pornography to terrorist activity, people are arrested because of Internet activity all the time. Many individuals believe they aren’t doing anything wrong, so they don’t worry about these issues. However, there have been cases of people being put on watch lists by mistake due to such data.
The other major reason online privacy is legally breached is marketing. Sites track your progress and activity so they can offer you advertisements that seem relevant to your needs or interests. Conduct a few searches for a new pair of boots, and you’ll notice Facebook suddenly offering you ads for boots and fashion items. It seems harmless, but it’s important for individuals to remember that nothing online is completely secret.
Defending Your Right to Privacy Online
Though there is no way to make your activity 100 percent private, you can take some steps to reduce privacy risks online. Guard against illegal or unethical tracking by:
- Being vigilant about what you download
- Avoiding websites you’re unfamiliar with especially if they ask you for personally identifiable information
- Running a program to remove spyware from your computer on a weekly basis (you can download many programs such as Spybot Search & Destroy for free.
- Reading privacy practices when using social media or other sites.
- Setting privacy settings to comfortable levels.
What’s your opinion about your right to privacy on the Web?