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Data Harvesting is Destroying Our Privacy

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Our every move can be predicted. All the searches we are going to do on the web, the websites we will visit can all be predicted according to the history of the user and everything we do on the internet is for future reference and to predict the behaviour of the user. It is believed that any personal information we share online like our credit card details, our likes and dislikes will remain exclusive to the person or the site with whom we shared it. The actual truth is that it can be accessed by anyone who is knowledgeable about internet and connected to it. Any information shared, activities done on the internet are all monitored by the websites we surf and are recorded to assist us in the future. The data collected may not be available to the public, yet, it can be accessed by various people like hackers and be leaked to everyone. Data harvesting is destroying privacy.

Corporate internet giants benefit from our habits. Demographics of the user are analyzed and are grouped into various categories. Lori Andrew, law professor and director of the institute for science, law and technology at Illinois institute of technology says that “advertisers choose keywords or details-such as relationship status, location, interests, activities, favorite books, employment information” (9). This information is used to promote various products to the consumers according to their choice as backpacks will be advertised to school kids instead of adults. Results and advertisements are arranged according to the past known history of the user. This means all our searches on the internet are recorded and monitored that also includes our personal searches that we want to keep to ourselves only. Moreover, advertisers create false needs. False needs are products consumers are persuaded by advertisers to buy which they might not even need. Personalized Ads according to our likes and dislikes are targeted towards us according to the data collected by the advertisers to increase company’s profits. The more number of people tricked into buying stuff they do not, the more profit companies make.

Irrelevant information destroys reputations. The information privately shared to friends that should not be accessed by anyone else when made public, can sabotage that person life. A 54- old teacher mentioned her students as germ bags on Facebook to her friends as she got another respiratory illness from them. This information was accessed by the authorities even though it was private and as a result, she lost her job. Once we share any sort of information on the internet, there is no way to permanently remove it as the data is stored and recorded by various sites. Furthermore, employment search is also affected when we share information on the internet. Our background information, social media accounts are all checked by employers when we apply for a job. The images we posted, the opinions we wrote, our feelings, all of these can be checked by the employers even if we delete them. The privacy of the internet user is not protected even if information is cleaned and anonymized as it can be traced back to the individual. This information affects our future, which we want to keep to ourselves or to people close to us only is easily available to everyone.

Criminals gain advantage from easy access to information. All our important information is available online. “Everyday to day transaction made requires the consumer to share some type of personal information, such as their name, address, phone number, bank account, social security number, or credit card number, etc.” These transactions cannot be avoided but misusage of our information can be if our personal information is not available on the web. This information is stolen by hackers and can be used for fraudulent, illegal money transactions, medical services theft, terrorism, or posing as another person. In addition, using computers to do daily tasks such as, purchasing products, sending emails, online transactions, online shopping makes us more vulnerable to cybercrime. “Internet banking customers must divulge a lot of their personal identifying and financial information in order to participate”. Confidential information through the website of the bank can be accessed by computer hackers which can be used to harm the identity of the individual.

Communication online affects our security. Everything we share with our friends, post online even in private is collected and stored by the site under the user’s profile. The main goal is to earn profit that can be made by sharing the personal details of the users to advertising companies. Tama Leaver, an Associate Professor in the Department of Internet Studies at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia, says that to play the popular game Zynga’s Farmville on social media website Facebook, one must allow the game to access their profile information from Facebook to authenticate their identity so that based on that knowledge the game developers can make virtual goods in game attractive to players so that they can pay real money for it. Additionally, disclosing personal aspects of our lives online harms us. Hackers pretending as government employees after finding out the location of teenagers by using Facebook’s geo location data calls the teenagers parents and convince them that their kid has been arrested by providing the kid’s location, hometown, age and all this information is stolen from Facebook’s profile of the user that money is required to set them free and without verifying some parents may even end up paying. This tells us that any information is attainable from our social media sites whether it may be public or private.

Government invades our personal space. Every action done by the citizens is under surveillance. The government collects data from social media sites and run algorithms based on that data to identify if a citizen is a potential noncompliant taxpayer. These algorithms that predict if someone is not going to pay taxes based on personal information can be misleading as they cannot interpret the actual sense of how humans communicate as the tone, expressions are what tells us what the other person really means instead of what they say. Moreover, big data enables the government to discriminate against citizens. “The calculation of criminal sentences, prediction of criminal activity or, it recasts in a different light, constructs filter bubbles, violates rights of procedural due process, and enables police departments to target communities on a discriminatory basis”. The conclusions like if the person is criminal or involved in any criminal activity made according to the history, gender, race, ethnicity of the person is derogatory and racist. “Computer scientist Latanya Sweeney found that Google is twenty-five percent more likely to show an ad related to arrest records in response to a search for a common African American name compared to a common Caucasian name”. This is discriminating and embarrassing to African American who may not be associated with any criminal activity but are stereotyped based on the history.

One’s personal space is lost due to collection of private information. Internet has connected us to the world but it also connected the world to our personal information. Social sites are collecting our confidential information that is then used by advertisers, government agencies. This information can also be accessed by hackers which puts our security at risk. We may believe that social sites are free but the reality is we are paying them with our personal information which they use to earn profit. It is important to raise the awareness to users as how their activities are tracked every day so that the users can protect their information.

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Data Harvesting Is Destroying Our Privacy. (2019, July 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 25, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/data-harvesting-is-destroying-our-privacy/
“Data Harvesting Is Destroying Our Privacy.” GradesFixer, 10 Jul. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/data-harvesting-is-destroying-our-privacy/
Data Harvesting Is Destroying Our Privacy. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/data-harvesting-is-destroying-our-privacy/> [Accessed 25 Jan. 2022].
Data Harvesting Is Destroying Our Privacy [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Jul 10 [cited 2022 Jan 25]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/data-harvesting-is-destroying-our-privacy/
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