Privacy Is ImportantNov 23, 2022
Some may think that privacy is already dead nowadays. While that may be true to some extent, it doesn't mean you should give up your privacy freely. This blog post will discuss why privacy matters and what you can do to protect yourself from prying eyes.
Your data is a powerful tool.
Personal data is comprised of many things that serve as identifiers of who we are, such as our full name, birthday, address, various identification numbers, location of residence, gender, age, etc. These kinds of data are something that we store in our memories, or perhaps we write them down on paper or notes and keep them somewhere safe. We may also have copies of documents that contain such data. These data are part of our private life; we should keep them personal and secure.
Now that we are in the digital age, personal data doesn't seem "personal" anymore. The concept of privacy seems to have degraded, and we have created a new normal where private data can now be in the hands of big and powerful organizations like the government and companies. Unfortunately, people seem to have been conditioned too to willingly hand over their data to big companies and think it's okay. As a result, various things about us that only we knew before are now also in the hands of others. Of course, you may read some disclosure agreements from companies that say that their data collection activities are meant to give a better experience and service to us by knowing our preferences, but there can be more than that. Not to sound paranoid, but there is always a risk that our data may get into the wrong hands and be used maliciously to manipulate us and do the bidding of others.
Privacy still matters in this day and age. You never know how others will use your data. So we should pick carefully who we entrust our data with, and we should only share our data if it is essential and trust who receives it. There are various reasons why we should keep our private data safe and secure as much as possible.
1. We establish control over our lives
Data is powerful in that it can be used to manipulate us according to the interest of others. An excellent example of this is targeted ads. These are the advertisements you keep seeing on various websites, especially social media. You may feel surprised to see ads that cater to your interests, and companies can do that by collecting data about your preferences, such as what websites you visit, the links that you click, what your likes are, what's written on your profile, who your friends are, etc. You may then be urged to buy things because of the ads you have seen. In a way, companies could manipulate you into buying the things they wanted you to buy. They were able to control your behavior in a certain way. The same thing can also happen if authorities abuse their power and use what they know about you to force you to act in a specific manner according to their interests.
We can control how much of our data goes into others' hands. Of course, it is easier when dealing with other individuals, but it may not be the case when we have no choice but to fill in our data when availing of companies' services or products that require us to register first in their database. So we must entrust our data to trustworthy entities and people if we must do it. On the other hand, we might be giving others free rein over us if our data gets misused for the wrong purposes.
2. Privacy is essential for establishing boundaries
Creating boundaries is one of the reasons why privacy matters. Without privacy, anyone can come in and interfere with our lives. We all have things we like to keep personal, not because we are hiding something sinister from others. We need a personal space where we can feel comfortable, unguarded, and act according to who we are. People cannot chime in all the time, and we, too, need times when we need to be alone and spend time with our closest friends and family. This idea also works on an individual level because others don't have the right to know everything about you. Unfortunately, some people have the idea now that not sharing everything about you can make you suspicious. Social media seems to have engineered the thought that it's okay to post everything you do on the Internet, including the most mundane activities. One must never forget the risk that someone can use all the information they know about you, including what you post on social media. We always have the power to limit and control what we share with others about us, and this helps establish a boundary that there are things personal and private to you, and others should respect that.
3. Protecting your reputation
Sharing and posting too many personal things that anybody can see can affect your reputation. An excellent example is when you are looking for a job. Some companies check the social media accounts of the prospective employees they are hiring. Suppose they see posts of you doing misdeeds and other unruly activities or articles where you say something sensitive or triggering. In that case, it can give them an insight into who you are and your beliefs and cause them to refuse you to join their company. The same thing can happen if you share something personal with others that can humiliate you. For example, if you get in a disagreement and that person decides to share what they know about you that is shameful, your reputation can plummet. So always choose what you share with others and keep personal things, especially those that can hurt your reputation, to yourself.
4. Creation of trust between individuals and entities
We cannot help but entrust our data to big companies if we need their services and products. There's Google for e-mail and its various products, Facebook for social media, Netflix and other streaming services for entertainment, etc. These big companies will ask you to provide some of your data so you can register and avail of their products and services. Of course, you may read some of their policies that they collect data and use them to provide a better and enhanced customer experience and service. It is now a matter of trusting them that they keep their word and don't use your data for other means. If you are a bit skeptical, you may think there might be some different agenda behind the data collection practices. Trusting such entities means they should be responsible for using your data well and keeping it private from other entities that don't have anything to do with you. They can also be held accountable if their data is misused. The same thing also applies if you entrust your data to an individual. If the other party holds on to their end and keeps your data secure and private between the two of you, it strengthens your relationship through the trust that is created.
5. Greater freedom
Limits can get imposed on our actions and thoughts when too much information about us gets leaked to others. For example, when it comes to freedom of speech, we can speak freely about a specific topic to others if we know that the entities or individuals affected by our statements don't know about our sentiments and beliefs. In a way, privacy protects us from getting criticized, or worse, inflicted with cruel acts, if we only choose to speak with trustworthy and open-minded people. Our beliefs and values should also be kept private if divulging them to others would make them treat us differently. When others don't know about our personal preferences and values, we can speak with them more freely. The problem with others is that they can be sensitive or get triggered easily over something, such as politics. If things are kept personal, discussions will be more civil, and we can get along better with others.
Everybody should know how to respect the privacy of others.
People can fear what they don't know about someone. It can happen on an individual as well as on an organizational level. Who knows if someone can sabotage and manipulate us? However, it doesn't mean that everybody should disclose everything about us to each other and that our data should be handed to big companies and organizations. Balance is essential here. People also need to maintain a certain level of privacy, and not everything should be known by those who think they have the right to control every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, we are now in a time when large amounts of data collected are now in the hands of various organizations. Accountability and responsibility should be demanded from such entities. Data security is vital; companies should know how to respect people's personal lives and not intrude on them too much. Not everybody is a criminal or someone to be used for profit. Respect is crucial as each of us needs our private space that only we can access, and there is a good time for when others can come in and perhaps influence us on what we choose to do and think about in our lives.