Despite more recent attempts to inform Internet users of issues with safety and privacy, there are many people who still believe that while sitting behind a computer screen in the comfort of their own homes, or anywhere for that matter, they are conducting business with anonymity; unfortunately, what most fail to realize is that every click, every file download, and every purchase made on the Internet is recorded or saved somewhere for purposes such as data for future marketing, research and development, and even prosecution of criminal matters.
While this may not appear to be significant to all web surfers out there, as the Internet appears to offer more pros than cons, it is for these exact reasons that the Internet needs to be navigated more carefully, and people’s propensity to offer information about their personal lives should be given a second look.
John Barlow’s “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” offers a satirical approach to many people’s points of view on the Internet and emphasizes the point that it is a place virtually impossible to control; for these reasons, it needs to be respected as its own world. Barlow elaborates by implying all the new laws that are passed to control and censor the Internet are only going against what the founding fathers wanted in regards to free speech and are leaving power to an individual to make his or her own decisions; however, just because the Internet isn’t able to physically restrain us for unjust actions and words, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t responsible for them in the real world; this raises issues about privacy and what rights we do truly have as digital citizens of this world.
The “Naked in the Sunlight” chapter brings up several points regarding privacy concerns. With objects such as black boxes in cars, radio frequency ID tags in items such as key fobs, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) that are able to track one’s location in real-time, cookies in browsing data, IP addresses specific to a person’s computer, and surveillance cameras that use facial recognition software, which are all Internet based, it’s safe to say that privacy is a element of the past. Despite this, though, some precautions can be considered; the safest rule to abide by while conducting business on the Internet is don’t put anything out there that you aren’t worried about people getting ahold of. Information such as home addresses, birthdates, and the names of loved ones is all a criminal needs to wreak havoc on one’s life. Unfortunately, the range of crimes related to privacy on the Internet span minor infractions to those that threaten national security. For instance, many international and domestic terrorist organizations use the Internet for transmitting data, which offers a lot of detail regarding possible attacks. Anyone who has turned on the television or read a newspaper in the last couple of days is well aware of the devastating toll terrorism can have on not only our nation but our entire world. Events like those that just tragically transpired in France raise many questions, one of which is directly connected to security. In regards to national safety and the right to free speech in mind, just how much freedom does the U.S. extend to people before they are investigated in order to deem if they are an actual threat or not?