Privacy on the Internet
In this new era of the Internet, most people use the Internet to acquire information of one kind or other. But what these people are not aware of is that the Internet is collecting information about them. Every time we get onto the Internet there might be a compromise of privacy of our personal information. The information flows both ways. With every clock of the mouse on a hyperlink, or an addition to the mailing list, someone out there might be gathering information about us. This raises the seriousness of privacy of our information on the Internet.
In recent times we might consider that the right for privacy in one of our major achievements in our society. Unfortunately the same does not apply for the Internet. The Internet once considered a place for free information exchange and sharing, has the potential has becoming the biggest threat to its users. The commercialization of the Internet is one of the major reasons why the chances of a compromise of our privacy have increased. Customer profiling, address trading or simple lack of care with sensitive customer information are just some of the threats that this commercialization has bought to our ‘free’ Internet. Another reason being that with the increase of threats there is a regular change in technology to counter these threats. These changes make it harder for the already overstrained users to cope with the ever changing technology.
Thanks to the HTTP, a web server running some simple software programs can acquire our IP address and then gather information about us from our own computer. This information can be anywhere from what kind of software the computer is running to gaining access to all our email contacts. Sometimes less desirable websites publish our personal information to list on their site to make you look like a frequent visitor, which could lead to embarrassing personal situations. Credit card and social security information are easily obtained and used in illegal ways, costing people millions of dollars.
Clearly we can see that we have a problem on our hands. What is privacy? Why is privacy so important to us? How can I help? What kind of security mechanisms are there to prevent this breach of privacy? How ethical are these mechanisms? These are just some of the question I will try to answer in this paper.
2. What is Privacy?
Privacy is often thought of as a moral or a legal right. Privacy can be described in different contexts. In one context we perceive privacy as the interest that individuals and organizations have in sustaining a personal space for themselves, free from the interference of others. Personal space has different dimensions to it ranging from a privacy of a person concerned with the integrity of an individual’s body, privacy of personal behavior, privacy of personal communications, and privacy of personal data. Information privacy comes under the privacy of personal data. This information or data about...