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Essay on Privacy

Privacy can be defined as a cluster or collection of universal rights that are based on the idea of being free from observation or disturbance from other people. It encompasses the right to live, right to your body, your properties and also to information about you. We all have varying lifestyles and personalities, and having a personal space with no intrusion or without being judged by others is one of the most important aspects of privacy.

With the advent of cyber technology, there has been a persistence violation of users’ privacy, mostly without the users’ knowledge. Atypical case will be that of a Cookie. A cookie is a data file that is placed on a computer by a website when a user visits the website. This file contains details about the user’s computer and sometimes personal details about the user like username, passwords, pages visited on the site and so on.

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Now, the information in this cookies are shared by ad networks in order to generate specific ads that will fit in to the user’s interests. While this might seem mild at first glance, the real issue lies in the fact that all these ads are generated to each user based on their online activities, which are constantly monitored thereby violating their privacy.

According to Manjikian (2018) “A violation of privacy occurs if someone manipulates, without adequate justification the environment in ways that significantly diminish your ability to control what aspects of yourself you reveal to others” (p.83). This form of violation of privacy is common in today’s world in areas like Ubiquitous Computing, Data Mining, Web Usage Mining and many others. In this present age, we all make use of technology devices and so the associated privacy issues affect us in the areas specified below.

Accessibility Privacy: this is the form of privacy that is concerned with who gets to have access to an individual’s information and to what extent should that access be. This is especially true in the case of an individual’s medical health records, where HIPAA mandates that an individual should give an informed consent before their health data is shared with anyone other than themselves. Common problem with accessibility privacy is the breach of data resulting from malicious acts or negligence.

Decisional Privacy: this form of privacy is concerned with the protection of people and their personal or family decisions or information from the interference of others. A case study will be that of educational information which is protected by the FERPA act. FERPA (Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act) gives students above the age of 18 the right to limit or control who gets to view their educational records. Another application of this is in geo-location services. Users get the right to decide if they want an application to have access to their geo-location or not.

Informational Privacy: this is the form of privacy that is concerned with the ability of an individual to control and manage information about them and the people this information is disclosed to. It is also called Data Privacy. Information in this case could be residence records, financial transactions, mailbox etc. Issues related to this are: Collection of excessive PII, disclosure and misuse of people’s information, monitoring of communication and so on.

As long as we make use of technology devices, we cannot avoid dealing with the issues surrounding privacy. A good measure will be to keep implementing and enforcing rules to guard and protect people’s privacy, because loss of privacy causes loss of trust, confidence and a loss of beneficial contribution to the society.