The Wild, Wild Web: Wrestling Online Privacy

February 9, 2012



Last week we debuted an infographic on the SOPA blackout, showing how the internet has become a powerful tool for activism. But the spread of social media also has its risks. Those same sites that we use to connect to family, friends and our community can also compromise sensitive information. According to Carnegie Mellon researchers, information listed on social media may be enough to guess a social security number, the key to identity theft. And with mobile banking apps, more and more people are logging sensitive information from their smart phones. Add confusing Terms of Service agreements into the mix (they take an average of 10 minutes each to read!), and it’s easy to see why online privacy can feel mystifying.

The following infographic helps explain some of the biggest issues in web safety and gives tips on how to keep yourself protected, from passwords to privacy policies. With a few steps, you can be confident that you control what you share online.


  • Anonymous

    The caution I would make about these kind of articles is that people get scared and think the government needs to jump in to protect us. Not a good idea. Laws need to be in place and in deed are in the case of theft or where individual rights have been violated.The internet should remain an open source for the free exchange of information and individuals can protect themselves from unsolicited information farming and identity theft. Does anybody wonder what the government is going to do with the data they get after google has “submitted” to “privacy audits” for the next 20 years? Data about you that google and others have been forced to “submit” to them. I doubt it will be checked and thrown away. It will be used.

    You, what you do, where you live, what you buy etc. Is extremely valuable information and companies will pay a lot of money to utilize this information. Some would say this is harmless as it helps improve how retailers market their products and help you the consumers more easily find what you are after without having to weed through “garbage” you could care less about. Here is the grey area. I do not want my information monitored, gathered and sold without me knowing about it and having the ability to opt out. Any companies gathering information of ANY kind (government included) should be required to disclose they are doing so and allow users to decline without sites implementing restrictions as punishment for doing it. Right now you have to read the fine print in the terms of agreement and many times it will say that these features are on and you do not have a choice but to share your information. Period.
    Being forced to submit to privacy audits is just a sneaky way for the government to get your information without doing the work themselves. Having the government step in to take control of the internet would be a huge mistake. We would find that the large media corporations with lobbyist purchased politicians now have the biggest cash cow on earth and can control what information is seen anywhere in the world. BAD IDEA.
    Protection does fall to you and there are some tools out there that work and there are some great companies that the continue to provide identity safety. Use them! There is enough competition at this point that the prices a reasonable so if you worry about protecting yourself utilize products and services available. Practice safe surfing and keep big brother and big corporations out of our internet. Keep it free. 

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