Harmony, History, Shopping & Digital Privacy Harmony, Essay

Length: 4 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Family and Marriage Type: Essay Paper: #66924917 Related Topics: Online Dating, Online Shopping, Consumer Protection, Digital
Excerpt from Essay :

Harmony, History, Shopping & Digital Privacy


Growing numbers of people are turning to online access for a number of rather ordinary activities. And increasingly they are learning that in doing so they are becoming involved in a world of business and to some extent deception that is at best built on a rather fragile foundation of trust and market forces. We have known for some time that as users of the virtual universe of opportunities, we are sharing with others information about us and what we want. But the extent to which this information is otherwise being used has been left in the hands of a relatively unguarded concept of openness and honesty. We seem to like the idea of putting ourselves out in the world to see what happens of its own accord, no matter whether we are looking for love, our family's past or good shopping deals. Only now are we beginning to see that this sense of trust and openness may not be as solid as we've thought. In fact, it may well be the case that what we have thought of until now as privacy may well be giving way to a greater consideration of what it means to participate...


We found that the majority of the sites we examined did not take even basic security precautions, leaving users vulnerable to having their personal information exposed or their entire account taken over when using shared networks & #8230;. (Hoffmann, 2012).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation posted the above comment, drawing attention to what millions of people are effectively doing to themselves when they sign up on romance pairing sites: they are voluntarily sharing private information because they think it will give them a leg up in their search for an emotional match. We tell these systems very significant and personal levels of information about our likes and dislikes and how we might want them made available to others. And why do we do this? Because we seem to think that no one cares about that information except perhaps for that perfect Mr. Or Ms. Right (McRae and McKnight, n.d). But that hardly seems to be the case at all.

Similarly, we are beginning to discover that this sense of trust in the system falls far short of its promises (Nehf, 2005) elsewhere too. Questions are being raised about what it even means to go online to discover our own past heritages. Even searching for seemingly innocent past connections can lead us to uncover the truths about others that may be public but that they have no idea even exists. Ancestory.com and other heritage sites, for example, are places where people go to find out about their connection to others in their family or in their family's past (Ancestry.com, 2012). But what does it really mean when that search results in a discovery of very intimate details about the lives of others whose lives just happen to be entwined with our relatives, many of whom we don't know and whose own privacy is of no concern to us (Vanderpool Gromley, 1999)?

What each of these activities mean is that whether we are looking for love or looking for our past or shopping online, we are…

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But this search for convenience has tremendous disadvantages that we often easily overlook. Clearly, it involves giving away information whose value we have little appreciation for. But just as importantly, we do this without recognizing that those who gather this information do so with the intention of reshaping our future. They use the information to determine where we might like to go in future searches for information. The privacy pages of sites like Ancestry.com (2012), as one example, openly tell us if we read them that their software is using the information they give us to decide what we might like -- effectively cutting out the world of luck or chance in the searches we seem to want to make for ourselves.

PROTECTIONS: For the most part the experience of exploring the virtual world of access is very much like the adventure itself: it is built on us having a sense of trust that the system itself will guard our interests. Most advanced nations have some acceptance in core human rights being based on people being free to exploit their own privacy; but how this happens in practice remains unclear. So what we find is that collectively we seem to use the power of our numbers and this interest in privacy to be its own source of protection. There are consumer protection laws and common sense rules (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, 2011), and these make up the majority of what we count on for protections.

Mostly though we trust that if people or businesses do something with the information that we provide them that is not as expected, masses of people -- usually through the media -- will create a

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