I found that privacy and security are serious issues in the digital world. Lots of programs were created to steal information from users. CoffeeCup is one of the example that steals users' passwords using stolen FTP credentials. As a result, people can easily get some private information through the Internet. My research question is to find out whether websites are using people's private information in ways that are more advantageous to the user or in ways that are more detrimental to the user. Our private Information is in danger as we connect with the Internet. In my opinion, the availability of people's private information causes more disadvantages than advantages to the user. There are two reasons as I say that. First, using personal information is illegal and morally bad. Second, this action can make users' data public, that will make the user feel embarrassed. However, we have to admit incidents of private information being used without our acknowledgement.
First, digital privacy is destroyed when people steal personal information, and this is illegal and morally bad. Humans have the right to protect their privacy. This is also true in the digital world. An article titled "Microsoft Digs in on Digital Privacy" from the Internet reports that the software giant, Microsoft, was storing users' data abroad, in Ireland. This is a huge and serious issue, because Microsoft not only controls the data arbitrarily, but transport it abroad. This is really not a normal level of destroying the digital privacy but a really serious one that needs the involvement of the government. Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and former Justice Department official, said "This is the first round in an ongoing debate on where are the limits of privacy abroad." In this passage, not only the author, but many experts mentioned that digital privacy issues need to be resolved by Congress, which means stealing private information is against the law.
Second, when users' private information is published and shared without their permission, they may be embarrassed. Statistics from Georgia Tech show that many famous companies like Facebook publish the user's data in the public area for business profits. An article titled "It's Not Just You: Terms of Service Agreements Really Are Confusing, Study Finds" says that most people are skipping the terms of security and granting the rights to companies without realizing the consequences. The article also says that the terms are too long and hard to understand, and that people hardly pay attention to them. Georgia Tech said that we're giving up freedoms when agreeing to these documents. As the Terms of Service said, companies can publish users' words to the public area. If one day, a citizen found his chatting record or digital diary were published in the public area, how embarrassed can he be? People do not want others to look at their secrets. So using information can be a really bad thing.
However, some people may have other opinions about acquiring user data that can have positive advantages. They may say that some companies can view your data, but they also provide the chance for you to manage and erase the data. An article titled "6 Links That Will Show You What Google Knows about You" by Cloud Fender pointed out that 6 links from Google will make it possible for users to manage their personal data used on Google. Although this means Google already has your personal data, including your Google searching data, many people still think that this is a huge advantage that protects the users' digital security. In other words, Google can back up your information automatically, which you can use as you need. And within the links, you can control your private information by yourself, which seems better than some programs that steal your information but you cannot control it.
Another opinion that people may come up with is that companies might use the data to make a better environment for the benefits of the users. Companies may use the user data to judge their actions so far and make improvements based on that information. They believe that the stealing is all about improving the products. An article written by Munson Lee, "Twitter to Start Snooping at Which Apps You Have Installed - Here's How to Opt out" says that Twitter starts to peek on users’ digital devices in order to to see what apps they have downloaded so that it can make better recommendations. Twitter also promised that it will only record the list of apps you have installed, not how they are used. Further, Twitter promised to alert users when the new feature is turned on. This makes more people believe that peeking at data on users' devices can sometimes be a positive thing.
Many reports show that personal privacy and digital security are threatened and compromised frequently online. I firmly believe that these actions do not benefit citizens based on two reasons, being against the law and making people embarrassed. Although people may say that use of private information is not completely bad thing because it may help companies to know what we think and sometimes we can manage our information, I still agree that those actions need to be forbidden. However, we have to say that we cannot prevent the sharing of personal information from happening all around the world,so we as a digital citizen should at least learn some ways to protect our privacy.
Update: March 4, 2015
ConclusionI was really appreciative for all the readers and comments of my blog. They gave me great advice and questions that made me think hard. Overall, my opinion toward companies’ secret using of users’ data is that it will cause more disadvantage than advantages. All the comments are great and took me time to reply on them. Though they did not change my overall opinion in my blog, some parts of my view really changed during reading and responding to the comments. First, I thought companies using users’ data without permission was bad for users’ rights, even if there may be some benefits in it. However, after responding to comments, I thought there could be a standard in this issue, which determined its effect to users. The comments also helped me to clarify my thinking. I realized again that my research is on companies taking and using the data not stealing. Comments brought me to further research on this issue. As I said before, I would like to find out the standard in this issue in my future research. In my personal opinion, the process of blogging is to have conversations with others, including friends and strangers, on a certain topic. Different on writing an essay, blogging has the advantages of keeping your mind on a social place, which means that by reading others' thoughts, your blog can better fit in an acceptable view. In my personal insight, blogging has a good effect in improving the society.