Online Privacy in the Digital Age

This week’s class discussion kept circling back to one big question – is there a reasonable assumption of privacy in a digital era? The short answer is “no”.

Between openly sharing our lives on social media sites and digital tracking becoming more sophisticated, most of the public’s online information is there for the taking.

It’s not that we don’t try to protect ourselves. According to a Pew Research Center study on privacy in America, 86% of internet users have tried to use the internet in ways to minimize the visibility of their digital footprints.

online visibility

While we may make an effort to control our online information, the Pew study also shows 59% of internet users do not believe it is possible to be completely anonymous online.

Rami Essaid, CEO and co-founder of Distil Networks says this is the price we pay for a richer and more convenient online experience. He believes the real question is not about an assumption of online privacy, but instead about transparency.  Here’s what he wrote about the topic in TechCrunch:

The fight should be about bringing tracking out of the murky shadows and into the sunshine of full disclosure. The Internet public has a right to know the “Five W’s” of tracking at every site they visit: Who is tracking me, what are they doing with the information, where, when and why?

Essaid says this would give people the power to decide what information they are comfortable sharing and would serve as a self-correcting market force, giving sites a blueprint to follow of what the online public considers an appropriate level of data tracking.

It’s an interesting concept.






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