Digital footprint: Violation of privacy or Opportunity for better life
Every click made online is recorded, sent through third parties and stored on the servers and there is no other way Internet could work. This means that all information uploaded online is saved and someone can get access to it. All our messages, pictures, posts, bank details, documents, location, interests and a lot more can be viewed, gathered, analyzed and used without us noticing it. World has a new Big Brother in Big Data. So what is the outcome?
Solve the crimes
As everything in the world, Digital Footprint has two sides of the same coin. One advantage of Digital Footprint is the opportunity to solve criminal cases. Think of how many cold cases there were 10 years ago? Nowadays, police can track the location and movement of their suspects in the real time as well as see their past activities. Fraud or legal issues can more easily be detected, as they all are recorded and available for view. Digital footprint is an irreplaceable asset for police forces to keep environment safe and prevent crimes. With analyses of smart data behaviour can be predicted in order to stop violence. Moreover, police has innovative technologies to get the data on population. For example, cameras screening cars’ number plates. They go unnoticed, if you don’t know how they look like. Cameras supply information that consists of pictures that enables to know the location of the vehicle as well as the passengers in it. And it is large dataset on every single car. Digital footprint creates an impressive impact in terms of security, but on the other hand, the possibility of tracking down our every move raises questions about our privacy.
Opportunity for business
Benefits from behaviour prediction do not stop on fighting crime, but extended to customer experience improvement. Digital Footprint contains information of peoples’ needs and desires. Smart analysis of the data gives businesses enough insights to advance services and products as well as personalised and adjusted advertisement that saves time and money. Ideally, decisions based on these insights should add value to Internet use and create incentives according to customers’ interests and needs. Google and Facebook already offer customer profiles based on their data. Google creates profiles depending on person’s search history and Facebook on likes and shares. Anyone with a Gmail account can see in their profile settings their demographic information, interests and personal data they have shared before. Facebook offers personally adjusted advertisement, where users can modify the promotions in the newsfeed by themselves.
Violation of privacy
While usage of the data left online evidently benefits both companies and their customers, it might violate our privacy. Personal data can be used to generate revenue without our knowledge. Actually the fact that all mail and personal information is in the hands of huge and powerful corporations is scary. Lately, multiple scandals have appeared concerning security of private information. Intel gathered by NSA was leaked by Edward Snowden, private celebrities photos hacked from cloud services, Samsung Smart TV spying on users with voice control program, Facebook’s shadow profiles and many others raise question of private information safety on a new level.
Looking for solution
There is no single solution to protect our privacy yet, but smartest minds are working on it. For example, CERN research facility has developed web-based encrypted email service. ProtonMail is designed as a zero knowledge system, using client-side encryption to protect emails and user data before they are sent to ProtonMail servers. The idea is that each account has two user passwords. One is the Login password which encrypts the mail and the other Mailbox password decrypts it. When mail travels through ProtonMail servers it is coded and can be decoded only by receiver of the email, which secures information from third parties.