Despite many attempts to control web content by companies, like America Online parental restrictions, the online privacy of personalized information is still a challenge. Many of these efforts are considered as unconstitutional, and there have been fears of government surveillance since Patriot Act passage in the USA. There are concerns on the increased online purchasing, and the demand for personal information, a factor that is exposing more content to hackers who access the information easily, despite many companies promising secure websites (Himma, 2007).
Concept: Internet Privacy, the Challenge to Keep Personal Information Private
Improved technology in the world today has subjected millions of people to privacy threats. Many companies have been hired to infiltrate information, and to control online communication. There are many online accounts where a person enters personal information, like Facebook, credit cards, and bank information. The concern on the Internet privacy cites some privacy risks. There are various events that can compromise the privacy, like gathering statistics on users, spreading of spyware, and software errors (Dunsmore, Jeffrey, Michael, & Stace, 2001).
Internet privacy entails right to personal protection in stowing, repurposing, displaying, and providing information through the Internet. The privacy challenge is experienced in Personally Identifying Information (PII) and in non- Personally Identifying Information. In PII, information identifying an individual, like physical address and age, is unique; as it can explicitly identify an individual even in absence of his/her name (Dunsmore, Jeffrey, Michael, & Stace, 2001).
Revelation of IP addresses, the non-personally-identifiable profiling, and some other similar information may be used as trade-offs for convenience that could be lost by users in event of suppressing details. However, those desiring stronger privacy will look for Internet anonymity (Dunsmore, Jeffrey, Michael, & Stace, 2001).
Another area that has been adversely affected is online business. Information on investments, merchandise purchase, and any other personalized information, like full name and address, may require tracking, and therefore is prone to insecurity. This is because the information provided is permanent, and is absorbed in the cyberspace, where it is accessible to anyone. Cookies are used in tracking the surfing habits for the users, because they contain profile about the user, and are stored on the hard drive of the user’s computer. The Federal Trade Commission in the US has not implemented the privacy, choices, security, and access privacy principles despite the attempts. Transparency in policies of opts-in and opt-out is lacking, and thus, only 20% of websites that collect personal information implement the above four privacy principles (Dunsmore, Jeffrey, Michael, & Stace, 2001).