Internet Privacy in the Modern World

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The internet’s debut in 1988 which had revolutionized commercial transactions all around the globe had grown exponentially over the past decade. In fact, the world internet users and population statistics by the Miniwatts Marketing Group (2009) showed that 23.5% of the world’s population are internet users and that the growth of internet users from 2000-2008 is 336.1 %. This rapid increase in internet users paved the way for the development of electronic commerce or E-commerce. E-commerce, the exchange of information, goods or services online, had also gained popularity over time as more and more people discover the expediency of online transactions. However, the internet, which is a huge storage room of information, poses risks to one’s privacy through these E-commerce transactions.

The privacy risks faced by internet users is one of the biggest threats in E-commerce, thus, this paper’s purpose is to provide information regarding internet privacy and the dangers associated with the loss of that privacy through the discussion of the following topics: the definition of internet privacy, the means through which one’s privacy can be compromised through the internet and the reason why internet privacy had become a major public concern.

I. What is Internet Privacy?

Internet privacy, which is another branch of privacy, is a basic human right. It refers to an individual’s ability to protect information about himself (Gadberg, Wagner & Brewer, n.d.). Privacy is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and by various laws in different countries around the world. According to the initial results of the data privacy survey conducted by the director of the Philippine Internet Commerce Society, Atty. Lalen Parlade, almost all respondents in the private sector believed that data privacy is part of every person’s right to privacy, and that this right imposes limitations on the use by the government of citizens’ personal data (including name, personal circumstances, contact information), and limitations on the collection and use by private individuals of an individual’s personal data (including name, personal circumstances, contact information, credit card).

On the internet, privacy can be divided into personal information privacy, privacy of communications and anonymity. Personal information privacy deals with the amount of personal information shared with anyone else on the internet without permission. Privacy communications or message privacy is concerned with the security of information sent through communication channels, that is, the information sent would not be intercepted and leaked en route. Finally, anonymity deals with keeping one’s identity confidential (“Privacy,” n.d.).

Among the three aspects of privacy, internet privacy is closely linked to anonymity which is the privacy of identity. Anonymity can refer to either persistent anonymity or one-time. Persistent anonymity refers to an online persona different from the personality created. On the other hand, one-time anonymity refers to an online persona that lasts for one use (Gadberg, Wagner & Brewer, n.d.).

II. In what ways can one’s privacy be compromised through the Internet?

One’s internet privacy can be compromised due to various data mining devices which store an individual’s personal information usually without that person’s consent. Some of the most common devices that collect a person’s data are search engines, spywares and cookies.

Almost every individual who uses the internet is familiar with search engines such as Yahoo, MSN and Google. Search engines are the tools one uses when looking for information in the World Wide Web, the results of the search which are called hits are presented in a list. It is widely used for data gathering in the internet. In fact, the word google, the name of the leading search engine today, is starting to become a verb...
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