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Is there such a thing as online privacy? 7 essential readings

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During 2017, people in the United States and around the world became increasingly concerned about how their digital data was transmitted, stored and analyzed when news broke that every Yahoo email account was compromised. The same applies to the financial profile of nearly every adult in the US. The sheer scale of information private companies have about people is becoming clearer than ever before.

This, of course, brought huge profits. But it comes with significant social and personal risks. Many scholars are researching on this issue. both explaining the problem in more detail and identifies ways in which people can regain control over the information in their lives and the online activities they create.

1. The government doesn’t take user privacy very seriously.

One of the main concerns people have about digital privacy is police access to online data, such as the websites people visit. E-mails and messages they say Mobile phones can be especially revealing. It’s not just a lot of personal information. It also tracks the user’s location. As HV Jagadish of the University of Michigan writes, the government doesn’t consider the location of smartphones to be private. Legal logic challenges common sense:

“By carrying a cell phone – which itself communicates with the phone company – you tell the phone company where you are. So your location is not private. And the police can get that information from cell phone companies without a search warrant. And they’re following you without even telling you.

2. So are software designers.

But cell phone companies and governments aren’t the only ones with access to data on people’s smartphones. All kinds of mobile apps can monitor the location. User activity and data stored on the user’s phone. According to the International Telecommunications Security Scholars Group, ”More than 70 percent of smartphone apps report personal data to third-party tracking companies such as Google Analytics, Facebook Graph API or Crashlytics.”

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Those companies can combine data from different apps, one that tracks a user’s location and another that tracks things like the time spent playing games or money spent through digital wallets. to develop a very detailed profile of each user

3. People are interested but have trouble finding information.

Even if people are worried But they couldn’t find out easily. What, when, or with whom they’re sharing. Florian Schaub of the University of Michigan explains the conflicting purposes of the apps and websites privacy policy:

“Companies use privacy policies to demonstrate compliance with legal and regulatory notices. and to limit liability Regulators will use the Privacy Policy to review and enforce compliance.”

which leaves consumers without the necessary information to make a choice

4. Promote understanding

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Another problem with privacy policies is that they are incomprehensible. Anyone who tries to read and understand them will quickly be frustrated by legitimate and awkward language. Karuna Pande Joshi and Tim Finin of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County suggest that artificial intelligence can help:

“What if a computer assistant could sort through all the legal jargon in seconds and highlight the key points? Maybe the user tells the automated assistant to pay special attention to certain issues, such as when email addresses are shared. Or can search engines index private posts?”

That will definitely make life easier for users. But it will help preserve a world that is not private.

5. Programmers can help too.

Jean Yang of Carnegie Mellon University is working to change that assumption. For now, she explains that computer programmers must keep track of user choices regarding privacy protections across all programs the site uses to operate. That makes errors both possible and difficult to trace.

Yang’s approach, called “policy-agnostic programming,” creates a direct share constraint in the software design process. Both of which force developers to deal with privacy. and make it easier for them to do so.

6. A new way of thinking about it is possible.

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But it may not be enough for some developers to choose programming tools that will protect user data. Scott Shackelford of Indiana University discusses the cybersecurity announcement movement. including data privacy This is a human right recognized under international law.

He predicts that real progress will be driven by consumer demand:

“As more people use online services in their daily lives. Their expectations of digital privacy and freedom of expression will demand better protection. Governments will respond by building on the foundations of existing international law. Officially expanding into cyberspace in the area of ​​human rights to privacy. freedom of expression and economic well-being.”

But the government may be slow to act. Let the people protect themselves in the meantime.

7. The real foundation of privacy is strong encryption.

A fundamental way to protect privacy is to ensure data is stored securely so that only those who have been authorized to access it can read it. Susan Landau of Tufts University explains the importance of encrypted access for individuals. strong And she notes that the police and intelligence community are coming to terms with this view:

“There are more and more senior former law enforcement and national security officials. It supports end-to-end encryption and strong device protection … which can prevent hacking and other data theft incidents.”

One day, governments and businesses may have the same concerns about individual privacy as people. until then Strong encryption with no special access for law enforcement or other agencies. will remain the only trusted guardian of privacy.

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