Privacy and the internet

What is privacy? We say that we value it, but what is it?

According to the Oxford online dictionary, privacy is, ‘a state in which one is not observed or disturbed by other people.’ This sounds like a good thing, and a part of me wonders if everyone did this then the world could potentially be a more peaceful place.

So what is privacy on the Internet? The Internet Society organisation claim, privacy is about retaining the ability to disclose data consensually, and with expectations about the context and scope of sharing. Identifiability, linkability of data, and the mining of vast quantities of aggregated information all erode the individual’s ability to manage disclosure, context, and scope. 

 It’s thought that governments, organisation and commercial companies want access to our data in order to better understand who we are, and our behaviour, in an attempt to intervene with a view to change an outcome or to make a profit. But are many social commentators claiming that ‘the sky is falling’ and getting carried away?

Many online contributors I believe are getting too excited that a national retailer may know how often we shop, how much we spend and know our favourite choice of butter. So what, if they know I shop on Tuesdays; will they create a car park space for me? Again what if they know I will spend more than $40 each visit, does this mean they will have five dollar notes in abundance in change knowing that I pay cash. The data may show that a person likes brand X butter, will the shop actuals profits change significantly if this shopper all of a sudden purchases brand Y; no!

What can people do to protect their privacy? People can protect their privacy by securing their existing network and hardware with certain applications and practise. Individuals as well as companies should be mindful of what information they share, websites they visit and how they store passwords There would be many websites that offer best practice on the subject.

 More questions need to be asked like what role does our government and Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) play?


By Billy Curry


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