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Custom Internet and Social Networking Privacy essay paper sample

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With the modern development of technology, the use of internet is rampant among all groups and ages of people. Everything has gone online with internet connection being demanded at a higher rate than ever before. With the development and growth of social networking sites, such as twitter and Facebook among others, means and modes of communication have been highly diversified. People are dealing away with ancient post office and fax, which were the main means of communication. Both young and old people are able to communicate and interact instantly using internet and social networking sites. However, in spite of numerous significance and advantages associated with the use of internet and social networking sites, the issue of privacy has become a major concern when given the fact that business organization and companies have gone online. There are increased cases of hacking and cybercrimes which has led to the increased need of internet and social networking privacy. It is, therefore, objective of this paper to analyze importance of internet and social networking privacy and means through which it can be attained.

Social networks have become very attractive to internet users; therefore, privacy has also become a significant issue that needs a serious inspection to be undertaken. Social networks have become very popular and are appreciated immensely, regardless of whether they are strictly about socialization or business-oriented. Millions of people from countries across the world have chosen to connect with the help of these platforms even if it on the account of their hobbies, career, and schooling (James, 2011).

These networks facilitate the socializing across the world, despite the fact that people would be indecisive to approach unknown individuals in the world. They exchange ideas, photos, interests, beliefs, among others regularly and are capable to get to know about daily routines and other activities of their friends just at a click. In addition to personal benefits, business social network is also effectively used in marketing campaigns (James, 2011). Brand awareness on the internet may be boosted by the personal tweets and blogs, employees’ accounts and the reaction of their network acquaintances. This is important when the particular workers inform their followers about any developments in products and services of the company. Hence, social networks are very efficient and practical marketing tools.

James (2011) stipulates that, nonetheless, it is of great significance for members of social network not to share much of their private information and details regarding their personal life and to try setting a border in their interest for others’ private affairs. It is partially dangerous to retell about your private life or routine, because the network members cannot control completely where this data goes. The data becomes public and everyone can reach once it is posted, and some ‘ill-willers’ would definitely take advantage and use it against you.

For example, some professional social network members could be approached by various anonymous people that would ask to add them on their list of contacts. Network members need to know that when doing this, their own list of contacts and their data might be negatively used by the new anonymous friend. Contact list of the victim may become a pool of data for purposes of recruitment or a set of impersonation/spam/phishing targets once secured (James, 2011).

According to James (2011), workers should also be careful when using Internet networks. Quite a number of available social networks have a field devoted to the user’s career as well as employment history; thus, every action of such a user may also affect the employer. Success as well as image of many companies is built on a set of moral standards, and about these standards the network user/worker could not care less. Thus, various questionable associations of employer/employee may reduce the core values of the company.

Sparrow (2010) stipulates that if to take some social career-related networks under inspection, things can get worse. Have a look at this scenario as an example; a worker who hasa strong base of different contacts in the company might be exploited willingly or not by a recruiting agency, for instance, just by accepting one of the simple friendship requests. Afterward, the HR will be capable of browsing the user’s list of contacts and find appropriate or major staff to be employed from the current user’s employer.

Thus, one should always remember to add to his/her list only those individuals that one knows and with whom they are friends and colleagues and also to authorize access to one’s contact list only to the individuals that are on that list alone. That is why, it is advisable to think twice if unknown people contact you and ask for access to the personal account of yours; these people may be not friends- to-be, but rather the ones that will exploite your list of contacts once you let them (Sparrow, 2010). Taking a moment for investigation of the request and asking for the details is the only good idea. One e-mail of investigation might save you from many troubles later on.

Internet Activities that Reveal Your Personal Information

Whenever you have an online mode, you offer data to other people at each phase of the process. This data usually make a puzzle which is supposed to be solved prior to disclosure of your photo. Information that you offer to a particular individual or a company might make no sense, as long as it is not incorporated with the information that you offered another individual or company (Sparrow, 2010). Below is the summarized information of the most common means through which you offer your data others every time you use the internet:

I)      Internet Services

You sign up to ISP (internet service provider) if you tend to pay for internet yourself. The mechanism that links your PC to Internet is offered by your ISP. There is thousands of ISP across the world providing a wide range of services. Every computer with Internet connection (yours as well) has a specific Internet Protocol (IP) address), which consists of four number sets that are divided by periods, for instance 254.36.81.923 (Sparrow, 2010). It is this number that permits you to receive or send information via the internet. The IP address might be ‘dynamic’, which changes occasionally, or ‘static’, which is assigned to a person permanently when he/she maintains the service depending upon the type of service.

The IP address does not offer information that is personally identifiable by itself. Nevertheless, the fact that your ISP is aware of your IP poses threat when it concerns privacy protection. ISPs have broadly different policies for the time IP addresses are stored (Sparrow, 2010). Unluckily, numerous services do not reveal their policies of data retention, which makes it complicated to look for a ISP that is more or less privacy-friendly.

II)    E-Mails

Undoubtedly, you know that you share your data with the recipient when you answer via e-mail. You might be also offering information to a number of other individuals, including your e-mail provider, the government, or your employer or anyone else to whim the recipient forwards your message. Under certain circumstances, the ECPA (that it is the Privacy Act of electronic Communication) makes it illegal to reveal the contents or any other information associated with electronic communication. However, the Privacy Act is quite a challenging law that consists of numerous exceptions (Sparrow, 2010). In 2010, many individuals were seeking clarification and reforms of ECPA so as to make the act more complete. Currently, ECPA differentiate between messages that are stored on PCs or those in transit. Less protection is offered generally to stored messages compared to those that are being intercepted when they are transmitted. Some other exceptions included in the ECPA include:

-         Private messages might be viewed by ISP if it is suspected that the person that sends them is trying to damage or harm the system and any other user. Nevertheless, casual supervision of e-mails is forbidden.

-         If the recipient or sender of the message approves the disclosure or inspection of the message, ISP can view it legally and reveal private e-mails. At times, during the sign up for the service, numerous ISPs need a permission agreement from every new member (Sparrow, 2010).

-          An employer can inspect his/her employees’ e-mails on the email system, if it is owned by that employer. Thus, e-mails sent from an office are not confidential. It has been determined by numerous court cases that an employer can look through and monitor almost all e-mail of his/her workers.

-          By court, it can be required from the services to reveal personal data. A subpoena might be also obtained from a civil court case or by law enforcement. However, with such a subpoena, the government may get only basic information of a subscriber. The government also needs some special search warrant so as to receive any additional records. Thus, a subpoena may reveal more private/personal information when it comes to a civil court case (Sparrow, 2010).

-         The government’s access to some of the records about online activity was made much easier and less time consuming due to the United States Patriot Act, which was passed by the Congress in response to terrorist attacks in 2001, and was improved in 2006. The Act eradicates much of the things that were overlooked before in an attempt to make records’ acquirement quicker. And it broadens the kinds of the records that may be sought even without an order of a court.

III) Discussion Lists

You are supposed to remember when taking part in online clubs/groups, also referred to as list-serves, that the one who sends or the one who receives can give consent or approve the monitoring or reveal the e-mails. In addition, one should know that one is passing his/her e-mail addresses to many people, which may cause unwanted forwarded messages, junk e-mail, and other unsolicited mails. The members’ e-mail addresses are readily available on almost every of the discussion lists on sent e-mails as well as on the group’s blog (Leymore & Nussbaum, 2011). There is nothing that can prevent some other members of list from collecting and distributing your address or any information that you post, even though a subscription and sometime a password is needed to use the list. Besides, almost every list serve is saved. For instance, some discussions coming from 1981 have been archived by Google Groups.

Internet Browsing

a)                 Browser

When you are browsing internet, you are transmitting your personal data to some Web sites. The browser probably offers your Internet Protocol address as well as information regarding sites that have been visited to operators of the Web sites. Nearly all browsers offer you an opportunity to control how much data is being stored. In general, you can adapt the settings so as to restrict some cookies and improve your privacy (Leymore & Nussbaum, 2011). Note that you will not be capable of employing shopping services if you choose high privacy settings. Nearly all major browsers currently have a so called tool of private browsing on offer that may increase privacy. Nonetheless, it has been found by researchers that most private browsing fail to cleanse all of the traces of your online activities. The privacy and security of this kind of browsing is undermined by many browser plug-ins and extensions.

b)                 Search Engines

Leymore & Nussbaum (2011) asserts that almost all of us use search engines for Internet navigation. These engines have the capability to follow/track every your search. They are able to record a user’s IP address, time of the search, or other information. Therefore, it is advisable to review a search engine’s privacy policy closely. It is also possible to disclose information inadvertently via your search engines.

Main search engines assert that they are supposed to retain some personal data to offer best services and to prevent security threats. Nevertheless, some search engines usually retain this info for more than a year, which far longer than it is essential to address all these concerns (Leymore & Nussbaum, 2011). Some of the search engines reduced the duration of the user’s IP addresses retention. IP addresses are deleted or anonymized by the following search engines according to such schedule:

-         90 days – Yahoo;

-         6 months – Bing;

-         9 months - Google.

IP address is not recorded at all by Startpage search engine, managed by Iquick, located in Netherlands. Such a policy was developed partially in fears that the company would be eventually misused if it retains information. It, therefore, came to conclusion that the privacy of a user cannot be breached, if the information is not being archived. To switch to Startpage is not the best solution, as Startpage uses the results taken from some additional search engines (Trepte & Reinecke, 2011). It employs an exceptional system when ranking its results: it awards a star for each result that was returned from some other search engine. Thus, the top outcomes of the search are those that were found in the most of these search engines.

Tip for Online Privacy

According to Trepte & Reinecke (2011), it is recommended not to use one web site as your search engine and as your web-based e-mail. Web e-mail accounts will normally need some kind of a login; thus, your searches are linked to your e-mail account if you employ only one site as your engine. To limit the amount of data that is retained by one site, you should use different websites for different needs. Alternatively, before going to other sites, logout your e-mail and purge your browser’s cookies to make sure that the searches are not linked to your e-mail address.

Trepte & Reinecke (2011) asserts that it is necessary to avoid downloading toolbars of search engine, like the Yahoo toolbar or Google toolbar, as these toolbars allow the storage of data about your habits of web surfing. Ensure that you are not downloading a toolbar unintentionally when you are downloading some software, especially the free software.

How Others Get Information about You Online

i)       Marketing

The internet can be essential to businesses for marketing purposes. Businesses can sell and communicate with clients via the internet. Businesses are also permitted by the internet to identify and learn about their customer base. In addition, many clients expect that a company they interact with in the physical world will similarly have online presence (Trepte & Reinecke, 2011). What consumer may not be aware of is how all of these purposes interact. Business may also meet its need of determining how many clients may want to go to a particular store branch when it meets your need of having a Web site with store hours and directions.

ii)     Web bugs

Web bugs are used by numerous web sites to see who has been viewing the page. A Web bug, also referred to as pixel tag, tracking bug, clear gif, or Web beacon, is a simple graphic or even a graphic enabled message. When this message or the Web site is viewed, the Web bug can confirm and save the IP address of the person that has viewed. A good example is an electronic greeting card (Trepte & Reinecke, 2011). You are permitted by Hallmark and other companies to request that you be notified when the recipient views your card. The Web sites probably use Web bugs to tell them when the recipient viewed the card. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to control the information collected by Web bugs. Additionally, Web bugs are positioned by third-parties and cannot be governed by the Web site privacy policy.

However, you can resist e-mail Web bugs if you read an e-mail offline. Many e-mail systems can block images that contain URLs so as to avoid Web bugs. Probably you have seen the message, “this e-mail cannot be completely downloaded so as to protect your privacy”. It is a Web bug message. These images contain Web bugs but you can simply do not download (Delta &Matsuura, 2008).  

Illegal Activity and Scams

According to Delta &Matsuura (2008), your information can be captured online by criminals using various means, but one differentiating factor is that you give them the information yourself in some cases. And criminals also use technology sometimes to steal your personal information without your permission. It is of great significance to note that theft occurs both ways. You should never overlook security steps for your computer, even if you pride yourself on being wary of scams and never give your personal information to strangers.

These activities may lead to financial loses increasingly. Losing money from computer can be overwhelming particularly due to the fact that it is not easy to get the money. Computer crimes present at least three challenges, including finding a court having jurisdiction, locating the criminal, and collecting the money due to the remote nature of the internet. As a matter of fact, many so called cyber criminals usually operate in some other countries (Delta &Matsuura, 2008). You should largely depend on yourself for protection, even though law enforcement is becoming increasing aware of computer crime. Quite a number of these schemes are very complicated, and these criminals will always come up with new ways to remain a head of the law. Beware, these risks are out there if you buy using the internet or set up online accounts.     

Conclusion

In summary, internet and social networking is grown widely. Internet is being used widely with people carrying out business transaction and interacting socially. However, just like any other place and events which need high degree of privacy, internet and social networking requires high degree of privacy. However, it has proved to be difficult to maintain privacy on the internet when putting into consideration that security and privacy is provided by the Web site and not user. With the development and growth of internet and social networking, world has been made a global village with people interacting day and night from all parts of the world.

This has facilitated rapid economic development with business organizations and companies reaching much more clients across the world than ever before. However, it has also led to increased cyber/internet crimes where people lost their money and even lives. Nonetheless, as far as it is difficult to maintain privacy on our own as internet users, there are several means through which we can secure our privacy while using internet and even prevent crimes as stated above. 

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