1 What is Online Privacy?
Online privacy refers to the right and ability of individuals to control the information they share and the extent to which it is accessible to others on the Internet. It includes protecting personal information such as browsing history, location, financial details and even our preferences from unauthorized access, misuse or exploitation.
In short, your online privacy is your data, your identity, your routines, your friends, your appointments, your photos and files, and any other information which can identify you as YOU.
2 Why is online privacy so important?
Unfortunately, the majority of internet users, especially the younger generations, say a famous phrase: "I'm not doing anything wrong and I have nothing to hide". This is the most destructive way of thinking that shows the lack of understanding of the majority of internet users. These are the same people who put curtains on their windows to protect their privacy. Now, the question for these people is, are you doing something wrong or illegal in your house that you have put curtains on your windows ?!?!
The world has changed and we must accept it. We should adapt our lifestyle to these changes and one of those changes is our online privacy.
Large corporations and many governments are trying to take advantage of this lack of knowledge about people by harvesting their data, feeding their data into various AI engines without their knowledge, or reselling their data to other third parties.
The best examples are Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and others who are trying to collect more and more information about us in order to better monetize their services and products.
What is worse, many new and successful companies have emerged that harvest or buy our data and sell it on to a wide range of governments, insurance companies and other third parties.
One can say, I do not care! What can happen if they have my data ?
The sad answer is that this mass collection of data has two major effects
1- Firstly, on you as the person whose data is being sold.
A good example is car insurance companies. Insurance companies always try to buy the latest data from data brokers. This data is usually processed with AI and can be directly linked to a real person with a specific name, email, national ID number. AI usually categorizes people into different categories based on different factors. For example, the music they like, the type of sport they are interested in, online purchases, friends and much more.
So a person who likes hard metal rock, American football, buys first person shooter games and whose friend is interested in car racing could be categorised/tagged as high risk. And therefore the insurance premium he or she has to pay could be double. (disclaimer: this is just a possible example!)
2- A general impact on society as a whole
The more data is collected from people, the more data brokers would profit and the more they would invest in technologies to track people's data. And therefore the more eager third party companies or governments will be to buy your people's data. Basically, it will be like a virtuous circle.
3 How can I protect my online privacy?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. Due to the ignorance of many internet users, tracking technology has become very advanced. But it is never too late!
The first and most important thing is to think that what data is, is to think very well. You should know that there is NO TOOL that you can install on your computer or smartphone to get online privacy.
To improve your privacy, you have to accept that it might be necessary that you change your lifestyle a little bit to reach a practical point of balance of good privacy while doing your online routines without problems.
Know that there is no such thing as FREE SERVICE. Whether you pay with your money for the services you get or with your data.
3.1 Identify your important data and information
To get started, ask yourself the following questions:
1- What data is important to me?
2- What email service do I use? Do they collect my data? What do they know about me?
3- What calendar and contact services do I use? What do they know about me?
4- What cloud service do I use to store my data? What do they know about me?
5- Is my operating system private?
6- What social media do I use and what data do I send to them? What do they know about me?
And so on...
3.2 Find solutions and methods to protect your data
For each question you should try to find a solution. For some you may not find a solution, and for many you may find several.
We will try to cover possible solutions to popular questions in our future articles.
Feel free to post your questions in the comments section.