College Essay Examples

Privacy and the Internet

Privacy and Internet

The internet is among the emerging technologies that have significantly altered how individuals conduct their activities in our societies. With the emergence of the internet, many people have changed their social networks since they can easily communicate, socialize, and even access a variety of information within the shortest time possible (Büchi et al., 2017).  When people are using the internet, some website often requires them to disclose their personal information. After someone gives their personal information, the web pages may give them varied benefits such as discounts or data access (Büchi et al., 2017). However, on most occasions, internet users are faced with the cost-benefit dilemma of either enjoying data access or disclosing their personal information, which may lead to negative consequences such as hacking. One of the negative consequences of personal information sharing by internet users relates to privacy.

Privacy is among the central issue of concern in most organizations. Occasionally, the corporate sector may collect their customer’s data to add value to their business. However, they are required to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of this data (Moussa, 2015). One aspect that has resulted in the emergence of privacy concerns when using the internet is that the regulators have failed to develop legislation that efficiently covers innovations concerned with processing and storing personal data (Moussa, 2015).  Privacy policies are among the primary mechanisms used by users when notifying them about their data practices. Although most privacy policies are often written in a natural language, reading them may be time-consuming, leading to most users ignoring them. Despite the availability of privacy policies, most users who use the internet have varied expectations depending on the context (Moussa, 2015). On some occasions, the privacy policies often offer a description of the expected and unexpected data practices. However, with the comprehensive descriptions in the policies, some of them often get lost. In today’s corporate world, most people are transacting online and doing their shopping on these platforms. However, most online shoppers have a primary concern of being assured of the privacy of their personal information (Moussa, 2015). This study, therefore, seeks to explore the internet user’s information privacy concerns on e-commerce platforms.

Research Questions.

  • What are the privacy concerns related to data collected and generated by emerging technologies such as the internet?
  • What are the personal and social impacts when sensitive personal data is exposed or misused?
  • What are some of the safety, legal and ethical obligations linked to the maintenance of data privacy?

Literature Review.

Privacy concerns related to data that is collected and generated by the internet.

Most businesses are filled with computer systems that rely on the internet to function efficiently in the modern era. To ensure that privacy concerns are addressed, most businesses regulate the use of the internet by restricting access to certain links or observing the actions undertaken by employees in a given institution (Rao et al., 2016). However, when analyzing privacy in broader terms, t can be divided into two domains, mainly the users and factors encompassing the user’s environment. In the e-commerce sector, customers’ privacy is often viewed as a concept that includes different issues (Rao et al., 2016). As a result, when analyzing privacy concerns when using the internet, it is crucial to consider the type of customers and the type of internet activities conducted. Subsequently, it is crucial to ensure how collecting customer’s personal information may lead to the emergence of certain privacy concerns (Rao et al., 2016).

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Centre, many Americans are concerned with how businesses use the personal information that they collect when engaging in various online activities (Auxier et al., 2019). Despite the concerns related to the personal data collected by businesses, approximately six in ten U.S adults note that they cannot go a day without conducting an activity online. Although businesses often use data-driven products and services in marketing their products or helping their customers save time and money, a large section of U.S adults do not believe that this system is beneficial to them (Auxier et al., 2019). Approximately 81 percent of U.S adults note that the potential risk they face from the data collected online by businesses outweighs the benefits. Seventy-nine percent of Americans also report being concerned about how different companies and governments use their personal information (Auxier et al., 2019). This is attributed to the fact that once a company collects personal information, most of the owners have little or no control over this information.

Individuals concerned about digital privacy are not only concerned by the individuals who collect and use their personal information but also the corporation that collects this information. Most U.S citizens believe that most companies cannot be trusted as good stewards of upholding the personal data that they collect (Auxier et al., 2019). When a section of Americans was asked if they feel secure with their data being collected online, 70 percent noted that they feel their data is less secure. Despite most of them feeling these insecurities, they are often not diligent about the privacy policies and terms of services they encounter while using the internet (Auxier et al., 2019). Tracking is an additional concern linked to personal information that is collected online. Approximately 72 percent of Americans affirm that most companies use their data to track them. With such privacy concerns evident among internet users, businesses in the e-commerce sector need to institute strategies that will assure customers of the privacy of their personal information (Auxier et al., 2019).

Personal and social impacts when sensitive personal data is exposed or misused.

Over the past decades, the breaching of personal data by organizations has been hitting the headlines. Although most organizations have instituted various measures regarding protecting the personal data they collect, cybercriminals have also advanced their attack mechanisms. A risk-based security report indicates that in 2019 approximately 5,183 data breaches were recorded hence exposing customers and businesses to compromised records. Data breach of personal information is linked to various personal and social effects (Janakiraman et al., 2019).  One effect relates to financial loss. A report released by Ponemon Institute indicates that data breach may predispose companies to incur various financial costs in compensating the affected customers, establishing incident response efforts, and investigating causes of the breach (Janakiraman et al., 2019). Additionally, data breaches may lead to reputational damage. When such an incident occurs, customers may be discouraged from associating themselves with the affected business. Lastly, customers may also be affected differently since the hackers of their personal information may use their personal information to try blackmailing them (Janakiraman et al., 2019).

Safety, legal and ethical obligations that are linked to the maintenance of data privacy.

When using the internet, customers need to be assured of their right to privacyAs a result, organizations need to establish common laws that will help in ensuring that every customer’s right to privacy is upheld while using the internet. Additionally, organizations’ moral obligation is to ensure that they do not use the data they collected in doing other activities apart from business. Although a lawful foundation dictates the right to privacy among online users, it has underpinnings legal intellectuals that may be too complex to be recognized by the public.

Methodology/ Study Approach.

The Internet World Statistics indicate that approximately 25 percent of the world’s population uses the internet in performing various online activities, including shopping. However, there is insufficient information regarding factors that influence individuals to conduct their shopping online and their privacy concerns. This study, therefore, proposes to use a research model of online privacy perception among different users. The model suggests a relationship between the perception of internet users to the legislation and government protection group. A case study approach will be used with a primary focus being on online shoppers. The user’s perception regarding the level of privacy protection will be measured by using a four-item scale. The data collected from the users will be crucial since it will lay a foundation for instituting measures that will ensure the privacy of all customers who constantly rely on the internet to perform their shopping. A case study approach is ideal because the collected data will turn the observation given by clients into useable data. Additionally, the method will use different methodologies hence helping in collecting detailed data. However, one of its disadvantages is that it requires more tie to collect the analyzed data.



Auxier, B., Rainie, L., Anderson, M., Perrin, A., Kumar, M., & Turner, E. (2019). Americans and privacy: Concerned, confused, and feeling lack of control over their personal information. Pew Research Center15, 175-190.

Boerman, S. C., Kruikemeier, S., & Zuiderveen Borgesius, F. J. (2018). Exploring motivations for online privacy protection behavior: Insights from panel data. Communication Research, 0093650218800915.

Büchi, M., Just, N., & Latzer, M. (2017). Caring is not enough: the importance of Internet skills for online privacy protection. Information, Communication & Society20(8), 1261-1278.

Janakiraman, R., Lim, J. H., & Rishika, R. (2018). The effect of a data breach announcement on customer behavior: Evidence from a multichannel retailer. Journal of Marketing82(2), 85-105.

Moussa, M. (2015). Monitoring employee behavior through the use of technology and issues of employee privacy in America. Sage Open5(2), 2158244015580168.

Rao, A., Schaub, F., Sadeh, N., Acquisti, A., & Kang, R. (2016). Expecting the unexpected: Understanding mismatched privacy expectations online. In Twelfth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security ({SOUPS} 2016) (pp. 77-96).

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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