Written by Hunter Rieger
As the 21st century continues the internet is continuing to become more and more ubiquitous. It’s changing the world in ways that the creation of automobiles or even electricity did. The world is connected like never before, but as social networks and constant online connection becomes more and more popular it’s time to ask the question,”Are we too connected?”
Now, with more than a billion social network users in the world, the issue of privacy with in major social networks like twitter and facebook is rising. 21% of social network users have had a social network or email account compromised and 11% have had important information like social security or credit card numbers stolen. These statistics are very disturbing especially considering how many people have accounts. With these statistics being so disturbing how is it that not many people are aware of them? Internet privacy issues are just in their infancy. The internet is going to exist and continue to grow in popularity for a very long time. The internet now, is like a newly established country. It’s like the wild west, rules have not yet been completely established, enabling people to do what they want.
There are a few big issues that we face right now with internet privacy. First off there is a type of software called “Cookies” not known to most, that tracks your browsing habits and personal info.
Def-Cookie- A packet of data sent by an Internet server to a browser, which is returned by the browser each time it subsequently accesses the same server, used to identify the user or track their access to the server.
What’s most alarming about this is how quickly cookies are taking over websites. Just five years ago there would be five, maybe ten cookies on a website homepage. Now there can be upwards of fifty cookies per page from ad agencies too data profiteers all trying to access your information. Another huge issue is privacy on “The Cloud” (A computing concept involving storing content on the internet). Everyone loves how easy it is to upload and access information from the cloud. So does the government and law enforcement. While the cloud rapidly expands and the number of users increases this issue is only going to get worse. It Is predicted that by 2016 roughly 36% of U.S consumers content will be stored on the cloud.
Now, at the infancy of the internet comes the time when people need to start establishing laws to protect the average internet user. Laws are slowly starting to be written starting with 2012s Privacy Bill of Rights created by the Obama administration.This law included a “Do Not Track” legislation, giving users the ability to choose when and whether to be tracked. This included the cloud and cookie software. Still the law was only proposed causing it to hold no true ground. Browsers like Mozilla Firefox embraced the “Do not track” concept but without the law behind it companies were still allowed to find loopholes and ways around . By 2013 progress was made and a similar law was implemented.
So, what can you take from all this? It is inevitable that the internet is a big part of the future. It’s getting bigger and it will continue to grow for a very long time. With any growing system there will be growing pains. Issues with privacy are going to get worse before they get better. It’s hard to say if they will ever get better. The internet is a mysterious and new place where it is near impossible to see what’s to come. With that said we as users need to be careful what we do on the internet. We need to finally realize that the internet is not as private as you think. It’s a public place where your actions can matter immensely. It’s not a place to act recklessly. The biggest thing to take from this is that in the 21st century you are always being watched, privacy will become a luxury.