The Internet As a Whole Sucks for Privacy
Most websites do some sort of tracking, scripts that run in the background keep tabs on where people come from, what they do on the site, and where they go next. This has become the norm, and users have grown complacent about internet privacy. People don’t have the option, in many cases, to deny sharing their information. In exchange for using a given service, people must be hand over their data. Users are powerless against big tech companies who are monetizing user data like crazy.
Google Analytics runs on approximately 57.3 percent of all websites. This means that Google gathers data about users behavior on all of these websites. That information is then used to target you with ads. Because your purchase behavior can be linked to your web browser, Google can target you with ads that you are more likely to engage with. Privacy is important for more than just protection from advertising, it’s essential for these reasons:
- Privacy Offers Protection for Vulnerable Populations
- Privacy Encourages Free Speech & Freedom of the Press
- Privacy Brings Objectivity & Free Flowing Information
- Authoritarian Governments are Limited by Privacy
Internet Culture Doesn’t Care About Privacy
Perhaps the reason privacy has taken a backseat to other issues is advertisers profiting from the information they collect about people. In 2016, internet advertising was a $72.5 billion industry. People growing complacent is another reason for the lack of privacy online. If internet giants, like Google and Facebook, have acted certain ways for so long, people believe there is no way to change their actions. Content was king, and now data is king. Data is so valuable because it allows people and companies to predict people’s actions. This predictive economy, like internet advertisers, relies on data aggregation to advance itself.
Tracking Mobile Devices is More Privacy Intrusive
Websites tracking location data for desktop users get a single location, wherever the computer is at the time it visits the website. Mobile devices, especially when using apps rather than browsers, give continuous flows of information about their users’ locations and behaviors. Applying the same laws to internet tracking and privacy to mobile devices as stationary computers doesn’t make sense. It leaves consumers vulnerable to malicious use of their data. Companies collect user data in more ways than ever with IoT devices reaching consumers in more places.
Facebook Is Not a Privacy Advocate
Facebook, thus far, has done very little to make privacy the norm on the internet. While Facebook represents a portion of the internet’s users, changing the privacy settings and policies for its products alone won’t do enough to change internet privacy culture. More privacy on the internet conflicts with Facebook’s data-centric business model. Until people choose private alternatives over the major platforms, the internet’s privacy issues will remain the same.