Internet privacy is totally embedded in some services people use every day, but it’s completely absent from other tools. As technology advances and makes its way into the majority of our lives, we need to take steps to protect the information that this technology collects. Private alternatives to mainstream products are launched all the time, and the existing privacy tools have improved their products in recent years. People no longer have to give up convenience or usability when using private alternatives to internet tools.
Why Is Privacy Important for You?
Most people have something that they don’t want everyone to know about them. If internet privacy continues to disintegrate there are a number of grave consequences. Privacy not only keeps your information from getting into the wrong hands, but it also gives people the power to decide what they disclose about themselves.
1. Limit on Government and Corporate Powers
Government surveillance and businesses tracking you lets those entities get a better understanding of your behavior. Governments can use this information to instill fear in their citizens to squash out critics and dissent. Businesses can use behavioral data for marketing purposes, which gives them the ability to more effectively influence their customers’ buying behavior. By limiting the information these groups collect, you’re effectively limiting the ways they can target you with marketing or other influence.
2. Privacy Lets You Control Your Reputation
The meaning of privacy is basically being able to keep certain information from being disclosed or accessed by the public. If you can keep your information private, you can prevent other people from using that information to harm your reputation. Keeping your information private prevents people from using that information to blackmail you or prevents companies from selling that information to other businesses.
3. Free Flow of Speech and Ideas
If people aren’t being tracked and aren’t concerned about their government punishing them for speaking openly and honestly, they are likely more willing to do so. When people can keep their identities hidden, they can more easily share controversial ideas and opinions because they won’t face any harm to their reputation. People are far more open to trying new things or speaking freely if they are confident that they won’t be monitored while doing so.
4. Privacy Promotes Quality Journalism and Criticism
Journalists often rely on anonymous sources to report on sensitive issues. Without privacy tools to protect these sources’ identities, journalists wouldn’t be able to hold the government and other groups accountable.
5. Less Risk for Businesses and Their Customers
Businesses that collect information about you have a responsibility to protect that information. If they fail to do so, they will have to dedicate resources to fixing that issue. Companies may have to deal with lawsuits from people who suffered as a result of having their information stolen, and may struggle to acquire new customers due to reputation damage. If you’re using a service that doesn’t collect and store information about you, you don’t have to worry about being harmed by a data breach.
How Much is Your Privacy Worth?
If you were to ask 100 people how much they would be willing to pay to protect their privacy, you would likely get a range of answers. Each person has a different idea of how much privacy is worth. If you are a public figure, keeping certain details of your life private may be extremely valuable. On the other hand, people are probably less likely to care if information about John Doe‘s finances, criminal history, or address is available online.
People May Only Understand The Value of Privacy Once It’s Too Late
In the past, one of the biggest drivers for people to adopt new tools dedicated to privacy has been high-profile data breaches or hacks. The stakes of a data breach and hack are always growing higher and higher because organizations are constantly collecting more and more data about their users or customers.
One of the biggest advantages to privacy-focused services that don’t track users is that even if they get hacked, there will be no information about individual users. If a company stores your personal information and is hacked, you have to suffer the consequences along with the company. No company is 100% secure, as we’ve seen even major financial institutions like Equifax leak information about their customers. If people truly want to take control of their information, they should try to use privacy-friendly services when possible.