What level of privacy should we be granted on the internet? How do we enforce this? Firewalls? Large penalties for violations? Tougher sentences for hackers?
In today’s world, it has become easier than ever to learn about a person’s habits through data left behind during everyday online transactions. Anytime we surf the Internet, companies learn about our data consumption habits, our hobbies, and how we spend our time. Whenever we pay by credit card or even enter a store, be it to buy groceries or gas, the transaction or ingress becomes part of the metadata that defines our modern existence. Energy, water, and power meters report day, time, and peak usage data to the utility companies, giving entities, at all levels, unprecedented access to our data about our private lives. Companies will continue to monitor our Internet browsing and metadata. Just how much privacy should we be granted on the Internet or with our own metadata and how do we enforce this?
Penalties for not respecting user data should be significant enough to severely impact a company’s ability to do business. In some cases, criminal penalties might also be warranted. Consumers should have the ability to easily track how their electronic footprint is used and the ability to opt-out of certain services, just like postal customers can opt-out of junk mail. However, we as consumers of electronic media must also be responsible for our own electronic trail and be aware of our digital footprint online and elsewhere. If we want more privacy in the digital world, we have to be the ones to do something about it.