Protecting your privacy is a big concern in today’s day. We live in a world lead by technology, and although it’s enabled us to reach unimaginable feats, it’s becoming impossible to avoid your personal information becoming available to the public. Is it possible maintain your privacy online in today’s world of technology?

In many cases, having an online presence is helpful and even necessary. It helps us jobs, go to school, keep in touch with people and know what’s going on in the world – all pluses. The use of online “cookies”, programs that record the items you look at in order to cater the ads you see, have bumped online retail to a whole new level, and online shopping is quickly on the rise to beat real brick and mortar stores. Online entertainment content, like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu, are often preferred to cable TV.  Technology has made every nameable industry more efficient, reliable, and profitable, and has increased communication between every corner of the world.

However, the internet enables criminals like never before. Identity theft, the dark web, and phishing scams are all easily done and often hard to trace. You may be thinking, “identity theft may have been a big thing when the internet was first starting, but people are smarter, and the government has stuff in place to prevent those things from happening often.” You would be wrong. In 2006 and 2007, identity theft alone led to $17 billion in losses, as shown in the article “Identity Theft: What It Is, How It Happens, & the Best Protection”. The numbers haven’t gotten any better in recent years. The article “How Common Is Identity Theft? (Updated 2018) The Latest Stats” shows that in as recent as 2017, $16.8 billion dollars were lost. In 11 years, we’ve only put the tiniest dent in the amount of money online criminals are stealing. As fast as we can develop anti-theft software and educate the public on protecting their info, hackers are creating new programs to get around our protection, steal our information, and get away without a trace. The problem isn’t improving.

So what do we do? The average individual can’t just stop using the internet; you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube once you’ve squeezed it all out, and likewise, the internet and its large stake in American life cannot be reversed. While the government is working as fast as it can to uncover and undo the neverending string of crimes occurring, it’s not quite enough. We need stricter laws that clearly define and protect the individual’s right to privacy, as well as harsher punishment for those found to be committing internet crimes. These new regulations need to be widespread. as Hannah Bergstrom points out in her article “Can Privacy Survive the Digital Age?”, “…data regulation has global effects. In general, consumers do not want their privacy or data regulations to change when they cross state or country lines.” One of the biggest hurdles in implementing successful rules is that they need to be as widespread as the internet itself – which is virtually everywhere. As tough as these agreements may be to come to, they need to be this omnipotent in order to work. The individual is doing everything they can from their household perspective; now it’s time for our leaders to take action.

The internet has irreversibly changed the world and the individual’s right to privacy forever. We need to keep up with the times in terms of protection, and create laws and regulations to match the racing speed with which technology enables us all – even criminals.

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