One of the hottest computer topics that attract public interest is privacy. The ease and efficiencywith which computers and internet are used to gather, store, search, compare, retrieve and share personal information make computer technology especially threatening to anyone who wishes to keep various kinds of “sensitive” information out of the public domain or out of the hands of those who are perceived as potential threats. During the past decade, commercialization and rapid growth of the internet; the rise of the world-wide-web; increasing “user-friendliness” and processing power of computers; and decreasing costs of computer technology have led to new privacy issues.
Many people have been tricked my e-mail scams, claiming that they will make you a millionaire. It is the same sort of pyramid scheme that exists over the SMS or e-mail, but no laws covered it for a while. Also, many e-mail chain letters have allowed urban legends to spread at an accelerated rate and created alarm over hoaxes concerning many food and drug products. These e-mails only bog down e-mail systems and servers, but do not seem to be ending. Some advertisers also e-mail unsolicited ads to e-mail users, in a practice known as spamming.
Let us now look at the most concerning aspects of privacy online:
-Protecting you: Online stalking has been a problem, with people harassing new ‘friends’ online and sometimes even threatening them, or confronting them.
-Protecting your data: This comes not from the fear of physical, but financial harm. Strangers may hack sensitive data such as your credit card number or sometimes any confidential information or site maps or photographs that are being mailed.Get the facts about laptop privacy filter
A recent survey states that 93% of commercial Internet sites collect some sort of data that may be used to identify you (this may be your home address, you e-mail address, name, etc.) and 57% collect demographics. Over one third of these sites did not post any information that they were collecting data and/or what it would be used for. The report concluded that only 10% of the commercial web sites that collected personal or demographic information followed fair information practices in respect to notice, choice, access, security and contact information.
Though there are laws to protect such kind of activity, seldom they are investigated. The Communication Decency Act stated that telecommunications, meaning the internet, e-mail, chat and chat programs (including IRC, AIM, and ICQ) should not be used to purposely harass or intimidate. You cannot e-mail bomb people.
The Online Privacy Alliance, made up of prominent companies in communications and technology is trying to help the internet industry self-regulate privacy topics. This may favor industries. Still, this leaves out individual consumers and others whose privacy is actually what is being debated. The Online Privacy Alliance suggests that consumers should look for privacy policies and be careful where they post their information. Bad guys will always try to steal your credit card number, telemarketers will always pay someone for your phone number, and companies will always try to collect data for advertising purposes. Such is the way of the world.
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