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Online Privacy: Is It Really Possible?

2143 words - 9 pages

The Internet is a vast world of virtual information. Activities like online shopping and social networking sites have put people in the position to ask themselves how private their own information is among the rest of the Internet. Can the average person completely control their privacy or are some parts of their personal information out of their control? To go along with that, is online privacy the complete responsibility of the individual? I have found that online privacy can be difficult to completely control because of the various types of tracking and third party devices. With that said, although these devices can get private information very subtly, being informed of the information gathering methods can help a person make better decisions for their privacy on the Internet. However, complete privacy is unlikely (Mitchell, 2013).
In the Engineering and Technology Journal, two engineers, Gareth Mitchell and Guy Clapperton, gave their thoughts on both sides of the privacy issue. Is gathering information violating personal privacy? They made their arguments using currency as a metaphor for personal information and online services a product. Mitchell argues the case that giving out personal information is “too high a price to pay” (Mitchell, 2013, p. 26). He says that despite the option to opt out of cookies and certain information, many sites are more covert and make their opt out option less accessible than a pop up asking to opt out. The site makes it hard for the Internet user to say no to being tracked. Mitchell warns the reader to take more consideration into what information they are giving away and that “privacy is not to be taken for granted” (Mitchell, 2013, p. 26). Getting information from the Internet would mean trading off personal information, and Mitchell argues that the information is not worth the amount of personal information given (Mitchell, 2013, p. 26). Clapperton, on the other hand, takes the opposite view saying that giving out personal information is “not too high a price to pay” (Clapperton, 2013, p. 27). He uses the term transaction several times to describe acquiring personal information. Clapperton believes that giving certain personal information is like payment for using services like Facebook and email. The user does not pay the site cash to use it, but the site needs to make money somehow. The personal information is the thing of value that allows an Internet user to access the service. Clapperton sees the gathering of personal information as a give and take situation rather than invasive (Clapperton, 2013, p. 27).
Galina I. Fomenkova, J.D. of the University of Chicago, wrote an article titled “For your eyes only? A ‘Do Not Track’ proposal” where she discusses how websites track Internet users, how these users feel and what they know about the methods, and tracking regulations.
First, she discusses the kind of tracking that most Internet users know of, but are not completely aware of its extent. Cookies...

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