The Internet is Public – Protect Your Privacy

They call it a data breach, but it’s really a breach of trust and privacy. You may have heard in the news about a site for married people to cheat on their spouses. They had all of their member records made public. It doesn’t seem like a big deal for many of us. Yet to over 30 million members, it may be the worst thing to happen to them. More correctly, to their spouse.

Privacy on the Internet

Worse yet, what if someone else signed you up for this? As a joke, or to hurt you? Now you’d have to tell your wife or husband it was some other joker. Sure, right, get a lawyer.

“But,” you say, “I don’t sign up for stuff like that. Who cares?” Well, are you sure you’ve never done anything on the Internet that you wouldn’t want anyone else to know? Here’s how to help prevent that from happening. These are three rules for being on the Internet.

1. Nothing is Ever Deleted, Even When You Delete It

Did you delete your account on Facebook? Nope. It’s still part of Facebook. It’s only been tagged to not show to anyone. Did you unsubscribe from a newsletter? Sure, but chances are that your info is still sitting in their computers.

Information is gold on the Internet. The more companies have, the more they can make. It is not in their best interest to delete any of it. They’ll make it unavailable to the public, but there’s always one person with the key. Sometimes it’s not the person who should have it.

2. The Information You Enter Isn’t the Only Information You Give

Websites can gather information about your general location, time of visit, things you viewed, type of computer you have, and so much more. That seems okay. But then they combine it with the information that you entered and they can paint a very accurate picture of who you are. Then they share that info with other sites and put it all together. Now, they know way more about you than you might even know.

3. Assume Everything You Say on the Internet May Become Public Information

Some of it you might not care about. But what about that vicious argument you got into on a website? Call anyone names? Say anything you wouldn’t want your kids or parents to hear? Many of us do. We think we’re anonymous. You might be, but only for now. The clients of the cheating website are finding that out the hard way.

It’s not all doom. It doesn’t even have to be scary. Just always conduct yourself like you would at work or in public and you’ll be fine. Good advice for offline living too.

First Published: The Guysborough Journal, Vol . 21, No. 34, August 26, 2015

Image Credit: Alan Cleaver via Flickr

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