Let’s start the new year with a topic I’ve been keen to write about for a while now; online privacy.
First, online privacy matters. Yes, even if “you have nothing to hide”. Because really, you do have something to hide in a sense, otherwise you wouldn’t have curtains or wear clothes (as Christopher Soghoian discusses in the TED talk/article). Amnesty International even goes so far as to label encryption as a human rights issue to protect and promote free expression (see Electronic Frontier Foundation).
According to Collier in Vocativ, “Plenty of people across Europe and the United States agree on the importance of keeping their data private. But according to a new survey, far fewer are willing to do anything to protect it.” Another article in Vocativ explains that many Americans are willing to give up their online privacy for more convenience in their online behaviour. Though these views seem to alter by age, and type of situation. For example younger people, especially when using social media, were more willing to accept the sharing of their personal information (for example to receive personalised ads).
It can seem troublesome and difficult to protect your privacy, especially if you’re not particularly tech savvy. While encrypting your emails may be too much for some, there are simple steps anyone can easily take to protect their privacy online (as listed in this TED talk/article) For example, put a sticker of your laptop’s webcam, and turnoff/cover the microphone. Don’t have sensitive conversation near your smartphone or laptop. Use psydonyms (fake names) on personal social media, turn off tracking on your devices and browsers, use incognito windows when searching online, don’t accept ‘friends’ on social media if you do not know them, check your security and privacy settings on these sites too, and think about having different passwords for different accounts. And of course, be cautious about what you share on the internet.
As ZDNet state, based on results from a survey of 3,000 internet users: “Although we all believe in the right to privacy, we tend to have difficulty with the trade-off and balance in the right to security.”
Finally, a shout-out to Librarians – who do of course put a high value on the privacy of their patron’s data. US Libraries are actually deleting sensitive information to protect their user’s privacy. You can read more about this in The Guardian article.
How much do you do to protect your privacy online? Or is this issue something you think is really not that important?