How To Start Protecting Your Online Privacy

Written By Sam on 28 September 2012
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At one time, individuals could expect a fair amount of privacy while in their own homes. That is no longer the case. If you go online, as most people do today, your privacy is at an increased risk. Through the ever-increasing use of social networking, cloud computing, instant messaging, and e-mailing, even the most intimate details of your life are now stored online.

A recent Bloomberg Law Report pointed out that while one’s digital footprint is significantly increasing, the legal framework to govern the privacy of information stored online remains incomplete, outdated, and misunderstood. Furthermore, technology is evolving at such a rapid pace, laws, guidelines, and privacy protection rules simply cannot keep up.

Assuming the Risks Online

The risks related to almost non-existent online privacy can be significant. Unfortunately, most consumers remain oblivious to the risks they may be assuming each and every time they go online. Not only is there a very real risk of identity theft, but there are also many other potential risks related to a lack of online privacy as well. In the past, a disparaging remark could be quickly forgotten. That is no longer the case in today’s online world. When all comments are permanently stored online, there is a strong opportunity for the creation of cyberlibel — an opportunity that simply does not exist in the offline world.

Other potential risks include bits of information, including recorded video, audio, and online discussions, being easily extracted from their original context and utilized for other purposes. Search results that appear for your name, even if they are erroneous, can be damaging to your career, your business, and your personal relationships. Rather than ask for personal references, an increasing number of employers are now turning to Google to learn about applicants before making a hiring decision.

Going on the Defense

The solution is certainly not to avoid the online world completely. The benefits offered by new advances in online technology certainly cannot be denied, including the ability to work remotely. Anyone involved in online activities today must be aware that their privacy is at risk and understand how to defend themselves. Reputation.com CEO & Founder Michael Fertik points out that everyone should be able to control their online reputation. The first step is to understand the picture of your personal and professional life that is being painted online. The next step is to be proactive and take control of your online reputation.

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