Is 'Internet Privacy' A Myth?

This is quite a contradictory question, almost a Catch-22. After all, we place all our personal information on the internet and then want to know whether it is safe. Most of us lead two lives, the reality and the virtual, and we tend to keep them as two distinct identities. But there are sites that require authentic data to process the official requirements, or you may as well be working in the paper, stapler and snail mail era.

So even if we wanted to avoid, we are compelled to place something authentic about ourselves in some official site, and not necessarily the various Social Sites. Now, if you have taken the trouble of demarcating Dr. Jekyll from Mr. Hyde even in the confines of the virtual world, where and how do they converge to take on a singular identity? Good question, but to understand it real deep, you need to be a techie or a geek. From a lay-mans point of view, which would be ours too, let us understand this in the simplified language of the complicated cyber world.

Let us know that the moment we create an email identity, and we log into the internet thorough our safe password within the confines of our home on the very personal computer, we are still not alone. No, we are not talking of the Twilight Zone; we are talking of something worse called Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. Between these three CCS or Cloud Computing Service providers, nothing much is really ‘hidden’, so the internet privacy does become a myth.

Presuming you have a yahoo email account, a gmail, or even a hotmail account. Know that any of these is controlled by one of the CCS, and somewhere down the line, there is an overlap that allows the exchange and filtration of data. For example, you can create any false identity on a social site, but Google knows your real name, when and for what you use the search engine, your mails and chats and from whom including their email id, access to friends and communities on Orkut, pictures stored in Picasa album, who you have been tracing via Geolocation.

Google knows every Blog, your birthday, your appointments through Alerts, your music preference through YouTube. These are just examples of some of the Google features in regular use, and there are many more. Similarly, Microsoft has features like Windows Mail, Messenger, Live Spaces, Live Searches, Windows Zune, Live Skydrive, Live Maps, Soapbox, and the list goes on. It’s too technical, but somewhere down the line, there is an info-share or just a trespass that does occur, and it becomes easy to segregate the chaff from the rice, surfacing the ‘hidden’ you.

But let us be realistic and ask ourselves, ‘why do we need to hide from ourselves?’ If we just be our transparent selves, we won’t need to worry much about our identity. Yes, keeping important and very personal data is another thing, but then no one advises you to place that on the internet. The privacy on the internet is a myth, but that myth is safe as long as you are within the limits of the law.

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Category: Computer Software

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