The legal and moral question of what privacy users can expect on the internet is not new. However, with the European Union and individual states passing laws on privacy and data breach notifications, many hope that federal privacy regulations are somewhere in the near future. In the meantime, users have to worry every time they go on a new site. However, a few innovative sites and applications offer great options for those who don’t what their preferences passed on to marketers.
Sites that Help Users Protect Their Privacy Online
Virtual private networks protect users via encryption, which hides the user’s activity, but those who access the internet via Wi-Fi on open networks don’t enjoy the same protection. Chances are every click and search is tracked. This leads to targeted ads, sometimes for goods and services someone’s interested in and sometimes for the purple blender they clicked past two days ago. The independent search engine Duck Duck Go is one of several sites that don’t track user searches or post targeted ads. Similarly, the video search site Petey Vid provides users ability to securely search for video content without saving the user’s search preferences — and they have many video results not available in YouTube.
The Global Conversation
The concern around privacy escalated in March 2018 when Cambridge Analytica, a clandestine political organization, made international headlines. The shadow firm was outed for poaching information on millions of Facebook users. The bigger story was how the social media giant let it happen. Many left the platform and others are still seething over the breach.
Washington’s Tough Talk but Lack of Action
Washington spent much of 2018 talking tough and threatening tech companies with a crackdown on illicit data dissemination, sometimes for cash. Not much has happened in real terms, and many suspect the privacy war will reach its pinnacle in 2019.
Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple support federal digital privacy legislation. Otherwise, states may jump further into the fray. For example, California’s legislature passed a law giving residents expanded control over their personal information. Pro-business groups have spoken out against the bill. This includes the Internet Association and Chamber of Commerce. However, the bill is supposed to take effect in early 2020.