The Internet has changed everything: how we research, how we do business, how we see the world and how we connect with people. It might be easier to ask what area of life hasn’t been impacted in some way by the world wide web.
But naturally, with all the good, comes also the bad. There are the criminals out there who steal identities, credit card and other financial info. One of the biggest drawbacks of course, the concern of many, is loss of privacy that comes from being “on the web.” It is why people were so outraged at the revelations by Snowden of the government tracking of behavior and calls by average everyday citizens. Advertising firms and others, including such businesses like Google, have become increasingly sophisticated at personal data collection.
But overall there has been more to gain from the Internet than there has been lost. And in many ways, let’s face it, we are still in the very early stages of this technological marvel. It is definitely a case where technology has outpaced law and our knowledge about how to regulate or deal with it. Or even our wisdom.
But more important to me is the fact that I don’t even think the problem is really one with technology or the data-mining that does indeed go on all the time. The biggest problem is that most people are just not as cautious as they should be on the Web. Maybe that stems from the fact that most don’t really stop to think about the realities of the Web, or to remember the new version of “don’t talk to strangers,” which is “what you put on the Internet never goes away and is never completely safe.” It is a simple rule to remember and follow. And yet all the uproar over Internet privacy amazes me because it largely comes from people who willingly put their private information on the Internet. Facebook is one of the most notorious places where people post personal information on themselves, their relationships, their home life, their sex life even. And then they are upset about privacy. It’s simple people, if you would rather someone not see or read about something you prefer to keep private, then keep it off the Web.
Let me be clear, I am not saying I think it is okay for data mining companies to take all your information, nor am I blaming the victims of online identity theft. But what I am most certainly saying is I think a lot of the outrage over online privacy comes from people who really need to re-examine how they use the Internet. The Web is a wonderful thing, growing and changing every day. But with that rapid growth, comes a whole lot of things to be careful about. Internet privacy is a big issue. But it is certainly not the Internet’s fault when people are just plain ignorant about what they use it for and when they don’t educate themselves on the necessary precautions. Until we figure this all out, it is simple, everything and everybody on the Web is fair game as far as your information or conversation getting spread. Once people realize that, then we can focus on the real Internet privacy matters. Why worry about the NSA snooping on you, when you voluntarily post private information about yourself completely voluntarily?