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Private and Personal Information

Personal information is rapidly becoming a commercial product in today’s technologically advanced world. This data is utilized by government agencies, credit card companies, banks and advertising firms. Many people probably do not know the amount of data that is shared between firms or how frequently it is accomplished. Most firms sell and convey user’s information online to help market products and find out what products they should design. However, the same confidential information is being conciliated thus eroding the rights of people to privacy.

In recent times firms have become bolder in their efforts to collect and share personal information. The million ways in which the web can be helpful, fun and efficient are clearly known. Its probability for abuse by spammers and scammers has also been noticeable since its inception. What has taken a longer time to surface, however, is consciousness of the web’s increasing risk to privacy as individuals become more contented providing personal information on the internet.

People who visit the web for routine uses such as writing blogs, posting photos, sending mail and personal information on social networking webs fail to realize either the extent to which they are putting their personal privacy at risk or the degree to which they are encouraging embarrassment, harm and mischief for several years to come. Social networking Sites and Privacy While regulations already on the records provide civil and criminal remedies for reprehensible use of personal data, the manner in which the web can be controlled for questionable uses that infringe on privacy have not been fully dealt with by the courts.

For instance in September 2006, Facebook, a social networking website which is well-liked among high school and college students, was the target of protest by users when it implemented some design alterations (Smith, 2007). Approximately five hundred thousand users protested about a novel service known as “News Feed” that instantaneously notifies other members every time friends update personal information including dating status and political affiliations or upload photos.

Users not essentially angered because News Feed provided personal information as the same data could be accessed in the profile of the user but because the new feature made it quite easier for other users to monitor one another. Stalking on the web is supposed to be difficult. Facebook made headlines again when it brought in a novel feature known as beacon, which utilizes e-mail addresses to monitor what members purchase online and displays the data for all friends to observe (Smith, 2007).

Outraged privacy advocates and Facebook users coerced the firm to make it optional to choose out of the feature, but this victory scarcely settled the bigger issue of confidentiality in the technology age. Even controversial features including Facebook’s Beacon creates little sense on average users. Facebook states that that only twenty five percent of its fifty million members trigger some of the privacy protection it provides. Some analysts think too much confidentiality is a just a problem as little privacy.

This implies that users should not demand that firms stop gathering and sharing data, instead they should insist they accomplish it safely. The companies most people patronize possess huge amounts of personal data creating grave risks. Hackers could thieve credit card number and police could track one’s political activities. But the probable advantages counterbalance the threats. Online accounts assist people to manage money, web searches assist police find crooks and personal details let firms to serve people better.

Retention of Personal Information Technology is developing faster than people understand how to regulate or use it. Discussions about information gathering begin with Google, which collects an astonishing amount of information. To start with, Google recalls each search forever. It also recalls which machine tendered each search for a period of twenty four months. Individual who use e-mail, spread sheet and word processor provided by Google share much data with the firm.

Google can also monitor each web that is visited and index each file inside computers. Heavy users of Google efficiently share their whole lives with the firm computers including bank balances, travel destinations, love letters and credit care numbers. There is nothing confidential about sites used for social networking such as Facebook, where the whole aim is to exchange information. Members can inform the system where they work, live what they do, as well as their hobbies. But pals or friends are not the only parties who access that data.

The system can access it too and utilize it to link members with advertisements. An individual who posts his hobby as mountain climbing may receive advertisements for ice axes; likewise an individual who enjoys diving receives ads for flippers at the same site. Public Websites and Privacy Even users who utilize public sites for unidentified searches risk their confidentiality, as approximately six hundred thousand ALO consumers found out in 2006 when the firm deliberately released over twenty million queries for research (Smith, 2007).

Although the firm thought it had deleted all confidential data, specific searches made it quite easy to recognize many users. The companies cross the line when they start utilizing personal information in a way that exceeds their articulated purpose for gathering it. For instance, if a consumer purchases a jersey online, on one hand it is sensible for the trader to request one’s address and convey it to a delivery firm. On the other hand it is not sensible to then provide it to direct advertisers. That exceeds the articulated purpose under which the merchant requested the address.

Privacy Policies Many companies including Google articulate their policies, but most advocates of privacy rights say they create documents which are difficult to find and hard for laymen to understand. In a 2009 study, researchers found out that most visited websites stated that they could share gathered information with associates (Maclay, 2009). But most statements were found to be either ambiguous or lacked data about information retention or the destiny of user information in case of company bankruptcy.

Further, the webs failed to identify the associates that they shared data with (Maclay, 2009). As evidence that the populace has failed to understand the massage, they refer to a poll conducted in 2006 by a firm that studies issues relating to privacy. When questioned if they knew the firm captured data that could be utilized to recognize them, seventy seven percent of Google visitors said no. Generally, user’s duty to read policies can serve as a safeguard against information leaks and ensure superior information management. Ownership of Personal Information

The main queries raised by abuse of the web aren’t new. It goes all the way back to the verity that individuals will utilize personal data collected via open means or surreptitious to perpetuate their interest at the expense of other people. As long as businesses have existed, issues of confidentiality have always been there as well. What’s novel is the simplicity with which data can be gathered and shared. Generally, there has by no means existed personal data about people as accessible as there is presently with the web. It’s specifically so with socializing sites.

It’s also the same case that the young people are more comfortable with placing personal data on webs than older generations. There exists a difference between placing data on a public site which is accessible to everyone in the globe, and placing information on a page like Facebook, which is basically a private, controlled site (Wharton, 2008). The query of who owns the data on these webs is an interesting one. Majority possess policies stating they enjoy ownership of information placed there, but obviously that does not offer them freedom to deal with the information in any conceivable manner.

Further, they have seclusion policies that enforce restrictions on how the data can be used, but there is no clear answer as to whether the data belongs to the site or to the user. Legal Society and Rights of Privacy The legal society has been discussing for decades whether it is appropriate to perceive personal data as a form of asset that is owned and consequently subject to asset limitations, or to perceive personal data as right of privacy. Over years, the model of privacy rights, not the asset model, has surfaced as the notion via which courts perceive rights to confidential information (Wharton, 2008).

The model of ownership has not been sufficiently implemented in law. The fundamental idea in rule is that anyone who collects the data possesses it, whether it is the user or not. For example, courts have occasionally refuted contentions by complainants who have confronted the capability of credit companies to utilize personal data on the basis that the complaint owned data about themselves. However, privacy regulations remain uncharted waters in according protection to users.

The legal structure does a good job safeguarding asset interests rather than interests of dignity (Marzouk, 1988). The conclusion can be easily drawn by examining the charges imposed on individuals who have stolen tangible assets versus for contravening privacy. The law has failed to safeguard personal privacy. According to Wharton (2008) a person can bring a claim against someone for disclosure of confidential fact. But individuals who are affiliates of sites such as Facebook, Myspace are assuming a big probability by placing personal data.

First, the sites disclaim burdens for postings. Second, it would be difficult for individuals to sway a court of law that they were injured by information or photos that they themselves placed or data concerning them placed by others. What barricades people from bringing litigations over data on the internet is that it is difficult to assert the data is private; unless in cases where it is highly offensive. Conclusion The rights of privacy will be continually violated as companies intensify their efforts to share and sell personal information about users.

In order to safeguard the privacy of the users, website managers should inform the users of all the personal data that has been gathered and the affiliates they have shared that information with. In addition, users should be permitted to select whether or not sites can convey data about them to other affiliates. Lastly, web privacy policies should be made more readable for average users to comprehend the implications of revealing personal information to the public. References Maclay, K. (2009). Web Privacy Report finds widespread data sharing, ‘Web Bugs’. Retrieved July 7, 2009 from http://berkeley.

edu/news/media/releases/2009/06/02_webprivacy. shtml Marzouk, T. B. (1988). Protecting Your Proprietary Rights in the Computer and High- Technology Industries. Piscataway: IEEE Computer Society Smith, A. (2007). Companies Harvesting Personal Information from Web Activity. Retrieved July 7, 2009 from http://www. dallasnews. com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/120907dnbusprivacy. 1c47951. html Wharton, K. (2008). Unwitting Exposure: Does Posting Personal Information Online Mean Giving Up Privacy? Retrieved July 7, 2009 from http://knowledge. wharton. upenn. edu/printer_friendly. cfm? articleid=1567 .

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