Reliability, integrity, security, honesty, ambiguity. What kind of description can we give to Internet safety? After interviewing my parents concerning their views of technology in the past, present, and future, I found that they both more than agreed upon the invasion of Internet privacy as being their greatest fear. Both trust in the Internet and can never get enough of it but feel that much of the information they are giving up is becoming more and more insecure. It is true that one can never be completely sure of the reliability of the World Wide Web. We live in a society today where our lives are becoming increasingly more digital. As we make this transition we begin to question: Where does our information go anyway? Is there anything anybody can do about it? How can we be sure that our information is not being violated? A discussion with my parents warranted these questions along with many others concerning how safe our information really is online. “Online privacy fears are real”, an article written by Bob Sullivan of MSNBC outlines the “murky, complicated issue” of Internet privacy.

Sullivan states that “websites want to know all they can about you” and consumers often give in to this peer pressure of sorts even if they are unwilling. This article draws a clear picture about how easy it is for our personal information to be violated. The purpose of the Internet is to allow people the freedom to enter another realm of information, to learn and to teach. Email, one of the many Internet perks, connects family, friends, and co-workers all over the world. With the invention of the Internet, distance was replaced with the click of a mouse. Internet also heralded new ways of storing information and the selling of consumer goods. A new generation of business, employment, leisure, and government was born. This generation of hope also brought a generation of piracy and crime. One may assume that information posted on a chat room is safe based on policies failing to read the fine print. Sullivan uses the example of a health support group “shocked to discover their supposedly private discussions about prostate cancer are now full-text searchable from a Web Site.” The article poses the question “How did you find me?” just as many Internet users do. The answer is not complex. Personal information is never completely personal. To quote an excerpt from novel Salem Falls by Jodi Piccoult:

“Hacking was illegal, but investigators knew how to bend laws to suit their needs. The first step, of course was to make sure your uptight attorney was out for the night, and it didn’t hurt to know his son had gone on a date, either. The second dtep was to mentally gather together everything you’d learned in years of investigative work…such as the fact that the average person’s passwords were not nearly as complex as they ought to be. Selena guessed that Gillian’s birthdate, in some permutation, was the key to her American Online account, and after three tries, she got it right. It was a little trickier to find her most recent online purchases-Selena abortively tried Amazon.com and Reel.com before finding a CD store with an account set up in Gilly’s name. Breaking through the encryption in their secure ordering system took another ten minutes and finally Selena had an American Express number.”

Although a fictional world, Piccoult raises much concern about real life hacking. Not only are civilians affected by hacking and privacy invasions, corporate dilemmas arise as well with such issues. Corporations including “DoubleClick Inc.” track down the activities of users anonymously across the Internet. Microsoft and Intel, to name a few, have been accused of tracking online customers. However, many argue that privacy invasions go farther than just on the net. Russ Cooper states “There’s far less information available about people on the Net than there is about anybody using a credit card…What are we afraid of when we do the same kind of stuff in the real world?” Diverse amount of opinion and fact can support this fragile topic.

Here is a link to the article

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