The Importance of Online Privacy (IV): Reasons for protecting your personal data
In the final article in this series (you can find the previous ones here: I, II, III), we’ll discuss a number of other areas where online privacy is more important than you might think. For the last couple of weeks, we have extensively discussed how the government, tech companies and hackers can all gain access to your personal data without permission. But there are a couple of other, specific situations where it can be even more crucial to be certain that your online activity and personal data is shielded from others. We will examine some of these in detail down below and conclude this series.
Journalism in the 21st century
In our first article, we have mostly examined the government’s actions when gathering data from within the context of the regular citizen. Although the violation of the average personal data is already a significant issue, journalists can afford this even less. It is already quite clear that it is almost impossible to practice journalism safely in more authoritarian countries, such as Russia or China, and certainly not without digital protection. But also consider Glenn Greenwald, the journalist behind the revelations of Edward Snowden, who communicated with Snowden through encrypted e-mails to be certain that the information they discussed remained secret from the American NSA. When a journalist is gathering incriminating data on anyone, it is incredibly important that this information remains secret. And in order to protect sources, journalists can certainly not afford to be hacked. Whatever way you look at it, a modern journalist cannot afford to work without digital self-protection these days.
Online protection from domestic violence
Another vulnerable group that needs to be certain that their online behaviour isn’t being monitored are victims of domestic violence. If the perpetrator is constantly observing their victim and is even checking their internet history, it can be very important for the victim’s own safety that they have a way to protect their online privacy. We look up so much information online and it is such a widely used tool of communication that it can be difficult to maintain our own independence if we cannot use the internet privately anymore. A number of precautions can already allow victims of domestic violence to shield needed information, contact someone or prepare a plan to escape the perpetrator. A couple of tips that can help are, for example, the use of your internet browser’s private mode (if you’re looking for information that you want to keep secret), removing specific websites from your internet history, changing the passwords of your accounts, using a VPN and to restore your cellphone to factory settings if the perpetrator has access to that too. Even if you aren’t a victim of domestic violence, a number of these tips can be useful ways to protect your privacy.
Online Privacy – Your right
Lastly, there is a final reason to consider online privacy: because it’s your right. We would consider it completely ridiculous if governments sorted through all our mail and keep copies of them or would be keeping check of what kind of newspapers we’re reading or which books we’re borrowing from the library. If companies were to build listening devices into our products, it would be considered a scandal. This is exactly what is happening today. The only difference is that we often do not see the digital world the same way as the analogue world: knowing that a company has access to your cell phone’s camera and microphone and can always turn this on feels more abstract than if someone were to follow you and record everything you do. By not setting consistent boundaries, that apply to both online and offline behaviour, we still end up losing some freedom. And because of that, we also lose a part of our identity.
We hope that through this series of articles, we’ve provided you with some more insight into the importance of online privacy. However useful the internet may be, the last few years have proven that there are some downsides to it as well. Protecting your online privacy is very important. Using a VPN, like Goose VPN, is a good way to guarantee this.