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WHAT DOES PRIVACY MEAN TO YOU?

Would you voluntarily tell a stranger private things like where you live, where you work or details about your financial situation? I bet you wouldn’t even give this kind of information to people you know! How much do you value your private life? What does private even mean to you? Do you realize that when you are online, you are giving out private information not only to one stranger but to myriads of strangers, among which are hackers, sexual predators, marketing agencies, local and foreign governments? Do you ever think about the impact such information might have on your life?

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When I protect my privacy, indirectly I am also contributing to the preservation of freedom of opinion, to my own right to change my mind or to inform myself on a wide range of topics which in turn don’t mean I necessarily agree with them.

Since I have no control over the storage of data by internet websites, I have to be very aware of the type of information traces I leave behind me. Remember, we are the source and if we don’t give it, they don’t have it. As simple as that.

WHY DO YOU GIVE AWAY INFORMATION ABOUT YOURSELF?

In then olden days gathering information about someone required real physical efforts such as following someone, intercepting mail or even digging in their garbage. Nowadays, you end up providing so much information about yourself on Media, such as social platforms, forums and all sorts of websites in general, that the effort to collect information about you is very easy.

Do you get any actual value from volunteering so much information online? Ask yourself, “am I the beneficiary of any advantage from the information I provide” or “do I contribute to supporting companies that blatantly abuse my data”.

Ever wondered how media platforms make tons of money? You would say by running ads. Think again. We are talking about billions in revenue here. The advertising income they generate represents just a fraction of their revenue generation. They sell your data, not only to innocent gummy bear advertising companies but also to political campaigns, analytical companies, and many other actors.

The reasons why privacy matters
to me so much, can be covered in
broad terms as follows:
• I don’t like people making
money out of my private data.
• I do not want people snooping
around my private information
• I don’t desire being traced
on my personal interests or
browsing habits
• I value my personal safety
which stems from my information
remaining private
• I don’t feel like being the pawn
of marketing invasive schemes
• I want to be in control of who
receives my information and
what information I give.
• Browsing on a topic doesn’t
actually reflect on my opinions
yet it might lead to me being
categorized as belonging to a
particular political ideology.

HOW CAN WE PREVENT DAMAGING CONSEQUENCES OF PRIVACY BREACH?

Try to live your life offline, I know it is a hard pill to swallow for youngsters. Life is about your own experiences lived in physical reality, not through electrons floating on the screen reflecting the fake realities of others. “It is not enough to read that the sands of the beaches are soft; I want my bare feet to feel it” – André Gide.

By being aware of the kind of information we publish online, we hold the means of preventing the disastrous consequences of private information leading to harmful outcomes. Always remember that you are the primary source of that data. In the end you are the only one to be blame for it.

In this case, prevention is the only possible cure. Once you’ve published something, having it removed is close to impossible. General Data Protection Regulation was adopted in Europe and regulates data privacy for the EU area only, even though it is one of the most comprehensive regulation in the world it also has its limitations. It is a difficult process to request that your data gets deleted, some sites store data in countries not covered by GDPR. However, GDPR has inspired data protection regulations around the globe including Asia. To get more details about Asia’s data protection legislation you might want to read Hogan Lowel’s “Asia Pacific Data Protection and Cybersecurity Guide 2019”.

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?

Only two, apparently innocent pieces of data such as an Instagram check-in into a hotel and a tweet about buying an overly expensive piece of furniture was enough for a hacker to acquire minutes, t selephone number and private address of Donie O’Sullivan, a technology reporter at CNN1. It is worthy highlighting here, that the hacker didn’t even need any advanced technology or the knowledge of coding to achieve his objectives. The hacker only had to make two calls to retrieve the vital data. just imagine what else can they do if they really wanted to dig more. This was done by a white hat hacker (ethical hacker) just for the purpose of demonstrating how easy it is.

Bottom line, we are unaware and ignorant about the consequences of our imprudence. Things might appear innocent yet they may open unwarranted access to our most confidential information.

 

CONTRIBUTED BY SUGAM SINGH

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