Online Privacy Concerns, Decreasing Consumer Trust

Wake up! Educate yourself before releasing private information over the web. 
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Chief Privacy Officer of Microsoft, Brendon Lynch, explains consumers’ growing concern over web privacy: “Increasingly, people are concerned more about privacy as technology intersects their life.”

This idea of web privacy is something that is becoming more and more of an issue today. Ten years ago, no one would really be too concerned about the consequences of not securing your web content usage or the idea of businesses gaining access to your personal data. But now, Google and other Web platform companies have the ability to track users’ locations and activity on the web, more effectively target users with relative advertising via search and email histories and even gain access to their contacts.

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Last spring, Microsoft launched a marketing campaign declaring that consumers are being unethically targeted by Google with its targeted advertisements based on email and search-related histories. They termed this being “scroogled” by Google. Microsoft just released an anti tracking signal in its latest version of Internet Explorer browser to ensure users that Microsoft is working hard to protect consumer information. Google refutes this declaring that Microsoft’s campaign was “intellectually dishonest”, and that Google has secure privacy settings ensuring that the consumer information is protected.

A Business Concern: Be Privacy Friendly

Companies, especially internet browsers, need to have secure privacy systems in place so that users feel secure releasing their personal information, even be okay with disallowing “cookies” (third party tracking software) if that makes users feel more secure using your service. That’s what Mozilla, an underdog internet browser, is in the process of allowing users to disable “cookies” altogether. This could potentially set the web browser apart from competition and give it a competitive advantage over other search engines. And as privacy concerns continue to arise, this will put Mozilla a leg up, ahead of the competition.

Implications Regarding Social Media 

The “persona” you create online through different social media platforms (i.e. your personal blog, work-related blog, Twitter account, LinkedIn professional account, Facebook, Instagram….just to name a few) can be customized and altered enough to create the ideal image of yourself achieved using different platforms. But, is all this information secure?

With all your personal information easily found on multiple websites, it is easy to “creep” into other peoples’ business. We do it without even realizing we are doing it. At the bus stop on the way to school/work, out to dinner with friends, sitting on the couch with your significant other, at a social event, etc. It is almost invading our personal relationships, because instead of conversing with each other, our attention can be easily dropped to look at a new notification on Facebook.

Does this impact our social capabilities? Are we going to one day be more comfortable with non face-to-face contact and uncomfortable with actual in-person communication? Are our interpersonal relationships forever changed by advances in technology?

How to protect yourself

  1. Educate yourself on how your preferred web browser is tracking your web activity, and make sure it is secure. Click here for references.
  2. Customize your privacy settings on every social media platform you are a part of.
  3. Explore your options regarding anti tracking software.
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