Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Is it online privacy a mirage?

“Publication is a self-invasion of privacy”. This statement was made by Mr. Marshall McLuhan, one of the authors whose theories in communication are studied in media schools worldwide. Today we wonder if privacy on the Internet is possible or we may cheat ourselves with the illusion that we preserve our complete privacy space in a hyperconnected environment.

Is online privacy a mirage?

Despite all legislation and initiatives about cookies promoted by different countries or the European Union, there are still a major percentage of users who do not know what cookies are or what they are for. Therefore, they are not aware that their movements are being tracked on the Internet. But this is not something you have to live with since there is some software that allows you to overcome most of the cookies.

A simple but an essential practice to keep our personal information - such as our full name, our birth date or our ID number - secured is avoiding to publish our ID card anywhere on the Internet or send it to anyone you do not trust. It seems like a very obvious advice, but it may not be so much judging by the large number of ID cards circulating on the cyberspace. Likewise deleting all data from your mobile phone or your computer before finally getting rid off it appears to be another common-sense practice in order to protect your privacy. However, more than a quarter of Spaniards do not bother in doing it, according to Locompramos.com.

But of course, a citizen is not always the one who has to be blamed for an intrusion in their privacy. For example, if his company keep his personal data unencrypted on a computer and that computer is stolen obviously he is not the responsible at all. 74,000 employees of Coca-Cola in the U.S. and Canada are in that very same situation. Their personal details were saved on some laptops which disappeared from Coca-Cola’s headquarters in Atlanta. The computers were recovered, but it is unclear whether there has been a misuse of the data or not.

On the other hand, it seems that the mere fact of being an Android user who downloaded some apps means that your privacy is at risk. According to security company MetaIntel, 92% of apps for this mobile operating system contain some deficiencies that could affect their security or privacy.

Even those using the anonymous email service TorMail must feel safe. It has been known that the FBI had access to all its mailboxes in the course of a criminal investigation. Many dark secrets might come to light after the analysis of all those emails.

So, can we preserve our complete privacy on the Internet? It seems clear that we have to give up at least part of it willy-nilly. But a significant percentage of it depends mainly on our prudence and common sense.


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