Every couple of months, issues surrounding online privacy seem to bubble up in the news. But after the news cycle passes, any interest in the subject comes to a halt. It seems like people truly want to be interested in their online privacy, but it’s either too much work or they simply get bored talking about the subject.
Whatever the reason, most people don’t care about online privacy until they’re caught up in an issue that could have been prevented by being more cautious online.
Let’s explore a few different reasons why people don’t seem to care about online privacy. We hope that by challenging common online privacy objections, we can encourage people to take steps to better protect themselves online.
1. Privacy is Dead
“I thought online privacy was dead?”
A lot of people don’t seem to be concerned about online privacy. Public perception of online privacy issues only really comes up when a large news story breaks. For instance, the recent FBI and Apple story, or when the NSA whistleblowing situation was brought to light.
These issues intrigue us, but then we go right back to our usual browsing and technology habits. For some, the idea that online privacy is dead—or doesn’t matter—makes it easy to justify our current technology habits.
After all, Facebook, Google, and our government already know everything about us, right? Maintaining your digital sovereignty isn’t exactly at the top of anyone’s to-do list.
It’s easy to think that your data isn’t very valuable. After all, who would care about your search history, or what you posted on Facebook, or my last name? But all of this information taken together can paint a very real picture of who you are as a person. As our CEO Frederick Ghahramani says, “Your data is worth about $15 to $20. Do you really feel like paying a big company $20 for the privilege of marketing to you?”
Business owners will gladly pay a large sum to have access to this data, and some governments demand this data. Doesn’t seem so easy to shrug off privacy now, does it?
2. People Think They’re Secure
We trust large companies with our sensitive data and personal information, and hope that they have our best intentions in mind. But these large companies have shareholders to answer to and profits to maximize. Do you think they’ll care about the sanctity of your personal information when it could mean a windfall of profits for their company?
3. It Seems Like Too Much Work
We’re all incredibly short on time. We’re stressed and don’t have any extra time to even think about maintaining our online privacy. We have kids to feed! We have our mortgages to pay!
The thought of having to go through an extra step just to buy something online or send an email to your aunt makes people automatically shy from the idea.
4. They Don’t Feel They Have Anything to Hide
“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” This old adage is very Orwellian and can lead to dire consequences when we believe it.
One of the common objections to spending extra effort with online privacy is, “I’m not doing anything wrong, so why should I care?”
We all slip up on occasion and say or do embarrassing things. Simply put, we tend to act differently in private than we do in the public sphere. The idea that we have nothing to hide operates on the assumption that hiding things makes you innately bad. Having your door wide open for anyone to come in and inspect supposedly makes you a much better person.
However, this kind of thinking is a very slippery slope. We don’t leave our front doors open or hand out our email, banking, and social media passwords.
Once we compromise our privacy and say it’s okay for all of our personal data to be used against us, we’re effectively laying the foundation for more harmful and negative consequences to come.
5. There Hasn’t Been a Major Fallout
Maybe you haven’t yet experienced the negative effects of your privacy being exposed online. Most don’t realize the true value of their privacy until their rights have been violated. Then they have to deal with the shock of something they thought was private being exposed or taken advantage of.
A teenager doesn’t think twice about posting something on social media until that results in a bully using the information against them and sharing it with their entire social circle.
A journalist won’t think twice about sending a compromising email, but with mass surveillance, encryption might not be enough.
A job-seeker won’t think twice about a harmless tweet until that very same tweet ruins their job prospects for the near future.
These stories are real and they happen to people every single day. The best way to prevent these situations from occurring is to be proactive and protect yourself before it’s too late.
Online privacy is an evolving issue and something that’s only going to play a bigger role as technology continues to become more central to our daily lives. We hope you find our downloadable guide to protecting your online privacy useful.
Do you have any great tips we missed? We’d love to hear about them. Go ahead and share in the comments below.