Ways Your Online Privacy Might be at Risk
Does your privacy online really matter? Many people briefly consider privacy but don’t really bother till something happens to them personally. Much like the idea of freedom, we do not appreciate it until we have lost it. In part, that ambivalent feeling about online privacy stems from the fact that internet privacy is a paradox - where the internet was meant to be a medium by which information was freely and openly shared. The internet has however become a space whereby criminal activity and business interests have come to operate, in the process infringing our online privacy, necessitating that measures to protect our online privacy be taken, and that some information be withheld.
Cybercriminals operate by taking advantage of the information you put online for their own financial gain. In Singapore, the credit-for-sex scam is an example of how your information might be used as a form of blackmail and extortion. Channel News Asia reported that a victim would engage a lady online and give her credit in the forms of iTunes card as payment. Following which, the victim would be asked to prove his identity by taking a photo of his identity card, and that photo would then be used to blackmail and threaten the victim into doing the perpetrator’s bidding.
In just the first half of 2015 alone, Singaporeans lost S$1.59 million in such scams – an avoidable loss had the practice of protecting one’s own online privacy been more adhered to.
Marketing and Online Privacy
While much of the drama and news coverage of online privacy centers around cybercrime, a large part of public debate focuses on web companies that collect data for marketing purposes. Marketing companies collect any form of information you put online to gain insight into your likes and preferences so that they would be better placed to sell products that you would be interested in.
All of this goes on without you knowing! For example, DoubleClick Inc. is an advertising network that tracks users anonymously as they browse the internet. Furthermore, e-commerce websites are increasingly lax on their privacy policies, with an increasing number of companies retaining the right to sell consumer information to external parties.
If all this information bothers you, you might be well served to take proper precautions not to disclose your personal information and web browsing activities. Do as assessment of all your online information - what personal and private information are you storing or disclosing on your computer or mobile devices? Ask yourself if these places may be safe and who may have access to them. From here, you will be able to assess the level of risk you are taking on and decide on necessary actions and steps that may have to be taken to protect yourself.