Technology, Privacy, and the Person

Introduction

Advancement in information technology is one of the greatest achievements realized in human history. This has significantly shaped the manner in which people communicate and share information around the world. At a click of the mouse, it is possible to access and share information with friends, workmates, employees and the general public.

Nevertheless the internet has redefined information technology and taken it to another level (Castells 45). Consequently, these developments have led to emergence of privacy and security issues especially in the 21st century with many people arguing that massive use of the internet puts users at risk of having their private information accessed and shared without their consent.

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It is more obvious than not that the use of internet is a threat to human privacy and has to be addressed to mitigate cyber-related crimes. This essay explores ways in which technology affects human privacy and how internet users and victims respond to these challenges.

Internet

Internet is a global network which allows connection of computers, computer programs and enormous information. This connectivity permits sharing and transmission of information regardless of ones destination on the global map. As a result, the internet is regarded as a resource center for a wide range of people (Castells 45).

It has become a space where people deposit and share private information, becoming victims of identity theft and privacy related cases. It is however important to underline the fact that the internet is largely unregulated on an international scale thus internet laws have limited legislative authority over internet activities in other countries (Levmore and Nussbaum 22).

Although the internet was initially used for communication in organizations, institutions and in business, it has found massive application among individuals around the world. Besides computers, internet usage has been facilitated by the emergence of internet-enabled mobile phones (Castells 45).

People around the world are able to search the internet, post personal information and view other people’s profiles. Additionally, commencement of the 21st century has witnessed rise in use of social networks like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace among others. Most of these sites allow users to create personal accounts under which they store personal information. Even though the accounts are usually managed by individual users, the privacy of such information has always remained a major point of concern among internet experts.

By posting personal information online, many people become vulnerable to cyber terrorists. While many believe that their social network accounts are solely managed by themselves, it is possible to access private information including physical addresses and other contact information among others (Dixon and Gellman 1).

This makes it possible to be stalked online and puts the private life of an individual at risk. Unless internet users are sensitive and have customized their settings not to allow strangers to view their profiles, social networks allow friends and other users to access their private data.

Privacy

Who doesn’t need privacy? In fact, privacy is so crucial that most legislation around the world recognize the need of having secure and private life. This equally applies to information technology and its ability to facilitate flow of information. Privacy allows internet users to have a personal space that is free from external interference (Kendrick 20). It encompasses a wider range of dimensions which define personal information that have the power to reveal the identity of individuals.

They include but not limited to privacy of personal data, physical privacy, behavioral privacy and privacy of communications (Dixon and Gellman 1). It is the claim of every person to have total control of their personal information in order to limit public access. With current technological advancements, there is a lot of online data surveillance which threatens total privacy of online data.

Threats

Threats to private data are considered common especially when using the internet for communication. For example, data which is transmitted online is subject to a wide range of risks including delivery of information to the unintended person or organization, information being accessed by unintended person, change of content during transmission and denial of the recipient to have received such information (Kendrick 21).

Another transmission threat is the existence of transaction trails which are able to record internet activities performed by individuals. These may include records of sent and received emails, visited sites and transactions performed using other internet gadgets and services. Exploitation of these trails can be used to reveal important private information which could be used against criminally (Dixon and Gellman 9).

In addition, threats to personal identity are a major challenge to internet users as it is augmented by technological advancements (Finklea 1). Such threats revolve around available personal information revealing contact details. An example of this risk which is common in the United Sates is identity theft where people masquerade and use different identities to perform transactions and countless malpractices (Dixon and Gellman 10). Unsolicited communication is also common when using the internet to transmit information.

Internet users are likely to receive bulky mails from unknown people when using the web for communication (Smith and Kutais 4). Common implication of such mails is that they waste the recipient’s time and may turn out to be offensive depending on the content. Correspondingly, emails sent across the internet identify the sender to the recipient without the former’s knowledge. This causes personality threat that could be used against the sender.

Counter Measures

It is clear that the internet exposes users to enormous threats most of which are identity-related. The question we need to ask is how these threats could be avoided. Notably, security of personal information is essential and has to be emphasized at all levels including personal and corporate. Among the ways IT experts respond to personal data threats is through encryption of sensitive records. Encryption allows protection of information being transmitted using codes or passwords which can only be decrypted by the recipient (Kendrick 162).

Besides coding of private information, web users are discouraged from posting personal information online, to avoid being preyed on by cyber terrorists (Smith and Kutais 4). In cases where such information is posted, it is important to customize access settings in order to limit public access to private information.

The use of firewalls and authentic antivirus software is also one of the ways in which most people are responding to secure their privacy. Firewalls are able to detect web trails although they do not reveal specific information being trailed. Lastly, stringent legislation should be formulated and implemented to guard against cyber terrorism across the globe (Levmore and Nussbaum 22).

Conclusion

The Internet is undoubtedly the leading means of communication which has been realized through technological advancement in the world. Having hit the peak in the 21st century, the internet has become a basic communication toolkit for both private and individual usage. While these momentous achievements engulf the world of communication, internet privacy has emerged as a costly threat to all internet users. These threats revolve around personal information and all efforts have to be put in to protect the privacy of internet users.

Works Cited

Castells, Manuel. The rise of the network society. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, 2009. Print.

Dixon, Pam and Gellman, Robert. Online Privacy: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2011. Print.

Finklea, Kristin. Congressional Research Service. Identity Theft: Trends and Issues. Philadelphia: DIANE Publishing, 2009. Print.

Kendrick, Rupert. Cyber Risks for Business Professionals. NYC: IT Governance Ltd, 2010. Print.

Levmore, Saul and Nussbaum, Martha. The offensive Internet: privacy, speech, and reputation. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2011. Print.

Smith, Marcia S., and Kutais B. G.. Spam and internet privacy. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Publishers, 2007. Print.

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