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Privacy On The Internet: Who Has Your Personal Information?

2293 words - 9 pages

Privacy on the Internet:Who Has Your Personal Information?Privacy has been a major concern for many years, but it was not until about ten years ago that people began to realize that their electronic privacy is being violated much more often than their physical privacy. In the past few months, almost all of the major news broadcasts such as 60 Minutes, Dateline, and 20/20 have done specials on identity theft. This has, undoubtedly, scared many people, but it has also put a new light on an issue that many people did not even realize existed. The Internet has many more benefits than shortfalls, but there are people who are just looking to make a quick buck and these are the people who are getting their hands on your personal information and using it for things that they should not be. On the Internet it is possible for users to give out personal information without even knowing that they have done so, and users commonly give out information to a website that they have never heard of, increasing the risks greatly. Websites have been unrestrictedly collecting, using, and selling personal information of users on the Internet for years; it is time for users and legislators to take the necessary steps to protect personal information.A recent study out of the University of Georgia Tech found that 92.8 percent of all websites surveyed collect some form of personal information (Culnan 6). The information that they collect ranges from a person?s name to his or her social security number (Culnan 11). Any website that collects information is supposed to have a privacy policy posted on its website to tell the user what information is being collected, why it is being collected, and how it will be used. Most reputable websites will have a privacy policy, usually with a link to it at the bottom of their page. A privacy policy is not required by law, but it is considered to be a good business practice for a website to have one. The study found that only 65.9 percent of websites had a privacy policy and of those only 10.3 percent contained the proper information (Culnan 6). Demographic information, ranging from a person?s zip code to their age, is also collected by 56.8 percent of websites. A staggering 56.2 percent of websites collect at least two pieces of personal information and one piece of demographic information (Culnan 6). The average website collects 3.66 pieces of personal and demographical information from each user that visits the website.Most of the information that a website collects is information that a user voluntarily gives them. Whenever someone makes an online purchase, he or she has to give out a certain amount of both personal and demographic information to a website, which may sell his or her personal information. It is not uncommon for a user to fill out a survey that collects personal information, without even knowing he or she did so. Many people believe that if they do not give a website their personal information they will not have to...

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