Did you know that only 1 out of 3 Americans considers internet access as a basic human right? The rest still believes that it is a privilege.
It is not just American users. In fact, a high volume of global internet users also considers the internet as a privilege. Perhaps, it is one of the primary reasons why users show a lack of care when it comes to their online privacy.
And perhaps, it is also one of the key factors that result in over 16 million identity theft victims every year.
Major Privacy Threats on the Internet
The frightening aspect of online privacy is that there are different types of threats that can put our privacy at serious risk. For instance:
Mass Surveillance & Spying
No internet user is safe from spying and global online surveillance. Believe it or not, your internet activities, and even the browsing history isn’t safe from the prying eyes of your government.
Take, for instance, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act. The law legally allows law enforcement agencies to eavesdrop on the browsing activities of the users. Moreover, there are similar laws in other countries like the US.
In fact, countries that are part of the UKUSA agreement (aka the Five Eyes Alliance) also actively play their respective roles in mass surveillance and even sharing of the acquired data with each other.
The hidden cookies are as old as the internet itself. These hidden agents are stored in your browsers, allowing the websites to store data related to your online behavior and, in some cases, your personal information.
Cookies are created and stored by the websites you visit. The cookies are used by marketers to understand users’ behavior on their website. Moreover, they use it to track users and display ads that relate to their interest or search queries.
Though some browsers use a “Do-not-track” mechanism, however, the policy is often overlooked by some marketers.
In 2015, it was reported that the WiFi hotspots would hit a whopping 340 million mark by 2018. In fact, the number of hotspots is increasing at a rapid rate. After all, there is now more and more demand for internet connectivity. Plus, many people are capitalizing on free hotspots such as café owners, hotels, restaurants, and even malls.
As convenient as it may sound, public WiFis are always dangers to your online privacy. The WiFi hotspots that we hurriedly connect to without even thinking twice are the ideal playgrounds for the cyber devils.
If you believe that the built-in security protocol can save you from those cyber goons, you couldn’t be more wrong. Latest studies show that the security standards used by wireless networks can be breached through different types of malware and other malicious tools.
In fact, it is even reported that the new WAP3 protocol isn’t safe either so you definitely need a good WiFi VPN to counter that.
Data Retention Laws
The retention laws go hand in hand with the surveillance practices. Our browsing activities are being monitored. Our location is being tracked easily. Our private chat messages aren’t private anymore.
Although, the data retention laws have been formulated with the good intention of keeping strict eyes on national threats like terrorists. However, we cannot ignore the fact that it also gives unnecessary privilege to other peoples in our private life.
After all, no one can assure us whether the person behind the system isn’t illegally monitoring our private data or selling it under the table.
Social media platforms were built to bring people from different corners of the world under a single virtual roof. While the platform did achieve its purpose, but it also created another problem, a privacy breach.
Social media privacy breach problem isn’t limited to the users who are engaging on the platforms. However, the problem lies in the platforms as well. Take, for instance, the privacy violations on the part of the social media giant, Facebook.
But All Hope Is Not Lost!
Though there’s no assurance of “absolute” online privacy, you can still take measures to save what’s left of it.
For starters, set up a virtual private network. There are lots of reliable services out there, such as PureVPN that offer VPN servers across different countries and location, carrying hundreds of thousands of anonymous IPs.
The anonymous IP addresses safe you from not only government surveillance but also spying web cookies, and more. As a result, you get to browse anonymously.
You can also try setting up anti-tracking tools on your web browser that can prevent cookies from tracking your online behavior and browser activities.
Likewise, you should also pay extra attention to what you share online. It is best to change the settings of your social networks to private and stop sharing your current location, intimate images, and such.
Privacy may not be absolute on the internet. But, then again, it is up to us how we protect it as best as we can.
Lindsay Dubose has been a journalist for ten years and has been working with the Tech News Watch staff since the beginning of the news site. Her main contribution to Tech News Watch are mobile, IT and science news, with a focus on software updates and great outer space discoveries. Lindsay is also the person in charge with keeping the site well organized and responsive. In her spare time, she likes to travel and discover new places. Lindsay studied at Penn Foster University, where she got a Diploma in Freelance Writing.