How safe Is Your Data Online?

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By Pearson Mbendera

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, in a note he posted on his Facebook page called for the world to put more trust in the internet. But the question that should linger in everyone’s mind is that, can we really trust the internet? Given some privacy issues that rocked the world over the internet, personally I think not.

 

In a note he posted on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg said, “As the world becomes more complex and governments everywhere struggle, trust in the internet is more important today than ever.”

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The internet has surely changed our lives in every way. It has changed the way we learn, our medicine, business and it has made the world a one village by making communication easier and cheaper. But trusting the internet can be too much to ask from the Facebook founder who has gotten in trouble a couple of times with privacy issues regarding Facebook users’ data.

 

He called the US government as the biggest threat to transparency over users’ data on the internet by saying, “The internet works because most people and companies do the same. We work together to create this secure environment and make our shared space even better for the world. This is why I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.”

 

But can we really trust Facebook and other tech companies to secure our personal information that we would have shared with them when we sign up to use their web services. They have done a pretty good job by making it possible for us to communicate, learn and do various productive things we do on the internet, but the bottom line is always money, and because of that, some privacy concern arise because these companies can be bought.

 

Internet information security is a big thing right now. It’s true the US government has spied on the people and continues to do so, but it’s not the only threat we have. We face security threat from private hackers and obviously from tech companies themselves.

 

Personally I have trusted too many websites by subscribing to their newsletters but for some reason I cannot unsubscribe to them now and they keep on spamming my email, flooding it with unlimited yet unwanted emails, that makes it difficult for me to access  important emails I would have received.

 

Although unsubscribing is supposed to easy and clear, most of these spammers have rather deliberately hidden the unsubscribe button or made the process unnecessarily difficult.

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I guess the word ‘trust’ has to be redefined when it comes to the internet. My computer dictionary (Encarta) defines the word trust as, “confidence in and reliance on good qualities, especially fairness, truth, honor, or ability.” Given that definition, it’s difficult for me to use it positively in the same sentence with the internet. But that’s just me. Sometimes my paranoia gets the best of me.

 

Looking at how Facebook operates, Zuckerberg’s note is hypocritical to say the least. They collect all our information including some which we would have deleted and not even shared with the public. If they are as transparent as they claim to be (by acting holier than thou) then they would have to lose all the information they collect from us after we have deleted it.

 

Facebook monitors every user’s internet activity by tracking our virtual direction and ensuring that adverts that are related to our most famous activities appear on our sponsored adverts. That alone is invasion of privacy to say the least.

 

My concerns are

  • Does Facebook and other tech companies have the people at heart? I understand how the social media business works. All businesses regardless of the industry work with the aim of pleasing the customer, from whose pockets the fortune of the company lies. But bottom line of every profit making business is money, and many a times, the pursuit of money has led to compromised corporate behavior which for Facebook maybe in monetizing user information.

 

  • Hypocrisy in the Facebook founder’s message. He just targeted the US governments hacking tactics on their spying missions but neglected to point out the willful selling of data by internet companies (Facebook included) to willing buyers like marketing companies and research companies.

 

Former NSA deputy director, John C. Inglis once called out tech companies for not being transparent about how they collect the public’s data and now Zuckerberg calls the US government out.

It seems like they are just playing a game and like always the general public gets caught in the middle and suffers for it. After all it’s our data they are talking about, shouldn’t we have a say on how it should be collected and used before we can trust the internet.

 

Well that’s my thoughts, what do you think about this. But remember, someone, somewhere will try to use the information you share on the internet, share wisely and don’t be caught offguard.

The Writer is University Student passionate about technology.

 

 

Nicole Madziwa

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