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Threats Posed By The Internet To Personal Privacy

1034 words - 4 pages

Privacy is a very important issue to Internet users. Fear of disclosure of personal information about an individual has prevented many from using the Internet. According to a 2000 U.S. News & World Report survey, 86% of Internet users fear that continued use of the Web threatens their privacy. Private information, in the wrong hands, can cause a great deal of harm to the individuals concerned. There are several issues related to the Internet and privacy that raise concerns for many users. The users of the Internet should understand the ways that their personal information is obtained and some ways to prevent, at least some of, their information from being divulged when using the InternetInformation is readily available on the Internet and very easily accessible. There is information that users would prefer not be disclosed that are easily obtained. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can provide a plethora of information about an individual, including name, address, and credit card. They can recapture email that was sent through their services. In addition, ISPs can recapture session information, such as the sites that were visited by a user, through its service. ISPs have divulged personal and private information about individuals, leading to embarrassment and negative employment situations.Cookies are another way that information is obtained on a user. Cookies are small records placed on a user's computer while visiting a website. The website can read the cookie later to identify the personal preferences. This information will enable the user to navigate the website more easily on return visits. Websites can recall registration information, so that users do not have to register each visit. Cookies also enable a user to move forward and backward within a site each session. Most cookies last during a user's session, but some can be programmed to last forever. This can allow the site to keep track of the users movements on the Web. Several privacy groups have argued that a cookie is technology that monitors and records users activities, without consent of the users, and that type of technology violates the user's privacy. Defenders of cookies, who are usually owners of online businesses, maintain that they are performing a service for repeat users of a Web site by "customizing" the way that information is retrieved and by providing the user with a list of preferences for future visits to that Web site.Web bugs can also disclose personal information that many of us would prefer to keep confidential. Web bugs are images embedded in a web page that can transmit information to a remote computer when the page is viewed. Then the remote computer can track which computer accesses which page. Several companies have used this type of tracking device to gather information about online shoppers. These web bugs can also help firms or organizations detect information leaks by being attached to certain documents that would allow the author or company to track...

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