In recent years, internet users are increasingly concerned about their online privacy. Ad blocker and VPN services have flourished, as users religiously check remove their cookies and check their spyware detectors. However, there exists a “privacy paradox.” Although people seem to be concerned about their privacy, their actions don’t necessarily reflect their worries.
A recent meta-analysis of 166 studies, including 75,269 participants, explored this paradox. Those who are concerned about their privacy are more inclined to regularly delete cookies, use strong passwords and generally take precautions when browsing.
However, when it comes to social media, these same users disregard these worries, even when they know that their data could be against them. Many of these users behave carelessly online, allowing much of their data to be made public. Privacy concerns appear to go out the window with social media, partly due to the fact that social media appeals to a basic human need: social interaction.
“Because people’s concerns about privacy don’t seem to translate into behaviors to protect privacy, it is quite easy to envision a future in which everything we do online becomes part of our public reputation.”
Read more on Harvard Business Review.
The Privacy Shield may be in limbo according the EU officials. With the FCC recently rolling back internet privacy rules, the EU is concerned about the future of the US-EU Privacy Shield.
The European Parliament voted on a resolution last week that would ask the European Commission (the executive branch of the EU) to ensure that Europeans’ data is being protected, as agreed upon in the US-EU Privacy Shield.
The Privacy Shield came into effect in July 2016, after the previous Safe Harbor agreement was declared invalid by European courts in 2015. Less than a year into it, the Privacy Shield is on the rocks—the object of two lawsuits, and to date, lacking an ombudsman to oversee complaints.
Read more on The Daily Dot.
UR is a secure web browser based in the European Union. Our goal? Protecting your data. Find out more about privacy in UR.
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the WWW
Over 28 years ago, Sir Tim Berners-Lee submitted his original proposal for the world wide web. He envisioned it as an open platform that would allow people all over the world to share information, access opportunities and collaborate.
Berners-Lee outlines his three serious challenges he believes “…we must tackle in order for the web to fulfill its true potential as a tool which serves all of humanity.”
1. Loss of control
Companies and governments are going to far by increasingly watching our every move online, and passing extreme laws that invade our privacy rights. As our data is then held in proprietary silos that we can’t access, we lose out on the benefits we could realize if we had direct control over this data, and chose when and with whom to share it.
2. Information spreads
Nowadays, social media sites and search engines are information lifelines. In fact, these sites make more money when we click on the links they show us, so they choose what to show us based on algorithms which learn from our personal data that they are constantly accumulating. The outcome is usually misinformation, or ‘fake news’, which is surprising, shocking, or designed to appeal to our tendencies.
3. Online political advertising
Democracy is being questioned with online political advertising. The fact that most people get their information from just a few platforms and the increasing sophistication of algorithms drawing upon rich pools of personal data, means that political campaigns are now building individual adverts targeted directly at users.
Read the in-depth essay from Berners-Lee on the World Wide Web Foundation
UR prides itself giving people back the control over their online privacy. Learn more about UR’s privacy features.
The Obama-era is over and the future of privacy is getting even murkier. This past Monday, President Trump signed a repeal of online privacy protections established by the Federal Communications Commission (FFC) under the Obama Administration.
Internet providers now have a much larger scope than consumers with the way they share or sell customers’ browsing history for advertising purposes. This data stream is a sacred vessel for advertisers because it allows them to build much richer profiles on consumers so that they can better target ads.
Read more here The Verge
Corporations can now compile and analyze unprecedented volumes of unstructured data created by humans, such as the text contained in company documents, email, instant messaging, and social media. This poses the question one of the greatest ethical challenges of our time: how we use or abuse digital technologies and the data they generate.
What happens to this data, and can it be used against us?
Read more at the Harvard Business Review
Be prepared when traveling
If you are traveling through the US border, you may be subjected to an invasive device search. This is beginning to raise questions amongst those who want to protect the private data on our computers, phones, and other digital devices.
On these grounds, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released a new guide for those traveling to the US. In a long or short format, this guide gives travelers the facts they need in order to prepare for border crossings while protecting their digital information.
See more on the EFF website: https://www.eff.org/press/releases/digital-privacy-us-border-new-how-guide-eff
Digital Privacy Guide at the U.S. Border
EFF’s pocket guide
Your constitutional rights
Should you de-connect your connected devices?
From sports brands to pharmaceutical corporations, companies worldwide are gathering more data than ever due to boost of Internet connected devices now integrated into their IT infrastructure.
By May 2018, new European Union rules related to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will go into effect and could potentially interfere with companies that bank on collecting and processing user data for their businesses.
So, what’s the problem?
The dilemma for these companies experimenting with Artificial Intelligence (AI) begins with profiling, which is essentially the ability for companies to use automation to determine certain characteristics of their individual users.
When companies use data analytics and related automation technologies to predict whether someone is likely to be a good worker or be more prone to a specific illness, that business is taking part in profiling.
“Companies need to carefully determine how to use their various types of data for different purposes that don’t potentially put them at risk of a violation. In some cases, that may mean a company should leave out certain demographic data when debuting a specific service overseas.”
Executives of major tech companies like Cisco and Microsoft are advocating for the technology community to “explain very well” complex and misunderstood AI technologies to policy makers who may be ill-informed.
As the EU prides itself on protecting the personal data of an individual, these companies conducting business in the Europe must be extremely cautious with how they handle and process their customer data.
Read more on Fortune: http://fortune.com/2017/02/14/google-microsoft-cisco-privacy-profiling-artificial-intelligence/
Image credit: Shutterstock
Senators have introduced legislation to repeal the FCC privacy rules.
Legislators in the United States are in the process of reversing privacy rules that were introduced last October and voted on by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The privacy rules in question oblige internet service providers (ISP) to inform users when sharing “sensitive” information about them. This includes browsing history, location, email content and other communications. Voted on at the end of the Obama administration, these rules were supposed to take effect in early 2017.
If these rules are repealed, ISPs will be free to share or sell user data to partners, who can then advertise and serve targeted advertising—all without informing users.
Read more on The Verge.
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What does the Trump Administration mean for the EU-US Privacy Shield?
It’s no secret that the Trump administration is causing a big stir in the global, political soup. Initially enacted in July 2016, the EU-US Privacy Shield set out to regulate what data can be shared between businesses on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and how that data can be utilized. It is inherently designed so data protection laws can be sustained between European Union member states and the United States.
What is the Privacy Shield?
The Privacy Shield is crucial for both American and European businesses to guarantee citizens of both countries to have protected transfer of data that it is not subject to mass surveillance. The European Commission outlines it in their Citizen’s Guide:
“The Privacy Shield allows your personal data to be transferred from the EU to a company in the United States, provided that the company there processes (e.g. uses, stores and further transfers) your personal data according to a strong set of data protection rules and safeguards. The protection given to your data applies regardless of whether you are an EU citizen or not.”
On January 25th, just a few days into his presidency, Trump signed an Executive Order ensuring that “…privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.”
The new administration brings up questions concerning privacy and what this means for technology companies based in the US.
Read more on TechCrunch.
With its headquarters in Europe, UR abides by strict EU laws which strongly favor user privacy. Your private data is yours—nothing is collected or stocked. Learn more here.