Privacy as we once knew it could be on the verge of extinction.
Before the age of the internet, it was easy enough to keep your details private. You merely decided who you would share certain pieces of information with and hoped that they wouldn’t spread rumours to too many people. However, when the online world emerged, it brought with it countless websites and applications asking for consumer data in some form or another.
Every day, we’re bombarded by different entities asking for information that seems innocent enough on the surface, like email addresses or telephone numbers. What we don’t realise is that every time we hand over another piece of information, we’re giving away some of our already fragmented privacy.
Privacy in the Age of Social Sharing
Perhaps the most significant thing affecting our privacy levels is the rise of social media. Today, countless people document almost every moment of their lives through one channel or another. Whether it’s telling someone about your day at work on Facebook or snapping pictures of your lunch on Instagram, you’re welcoming the world into your life.
According to a study named “Future of the Internet” by Pew Research Centre, the millennial trend of sharing large amounts of personal data online will continue as today’s teens continue to age. The report explained that new definitions of public and private information are emerging in the “networked” world, and we’re entering a period of trial and error, where people are gradually learning what they should and shouldn’t be sharing online.
We’ve already seen plenty of evidence into how dangerous sharing the wrong information online can be. This year, Facebook revealed that it had gathered data from 87 million Facebook users around the world without their knowledge, as part of an event known as the “Cambridge Analytica Scandal“. The scandal showed us how little we really know about the way companies use our information.
Changes in Regulation and GDPR
Perhaps one positive thing that came from the Cambridge Analytica Scandal was the rising awareness of privacy and how it’s changing in today’s environment. More customers began to look forward to the implementation of the “GDPR” regulation for confidentiality, which now requires companies throughout Europe to ask for their customer’s permission to contact them, preserve their details, and share that information with other people.
The GDPR regulations are a significant step forward for those concerned about the ever-changing nature of privacy in the online world. These new guidelines help to give some control back to internet users when it comes to discerning how data is shared. However, there’s still a way to go before we can say that “privacy” is no longer an endangered species. Consumers need to understand more about how their data is shared and used online, and companies must be more transparent with their strategies for collecting information.
For now, GDPR is just one step in a journey towards a new definition of privacy, and what it takes to preserve our sensitive information in a digitally connected world.