Internet privacy is something that more people than ever previously are starting to take seriously.
At the start of the Internet era, governments and corporations were quick to reassure people that if they didn’t have anything to hide, they shouldn’t have anything to fear from a little surveillance.
However, now in 2021, we are seeing the emergence of what some call surveillance capitalism.
The State of Internet Privacy in 2021
If you live in the U.S. you will no doubt be familiar with the idea of America being the leader of global freedom and democracy.
Did you know though, that since April 2017, it has been legal in the U.S. for Internet service providers to harvest and sell your web browsing history?
Imagine that a representative of a global marketing agency walks up to you on the street one day. Now, imagine that they ask you to hand over every piece of information about yourself that you consider private.
- The smiling representative in front of you wants a list of every book you have ever bought.
- They want to know what your sexual preference is.
- They also want to know who all your friends are, where you bank, what you eat, and they want to know what your favorite position is in the bedroom.
The person in front of you also wants all of this information for free—and they want to be able to share it with their friends.
All of the above might seem absurd. However, if you do not use a VPN, you give away all of this information (and more) every day, every time you go online.
Welcome to the Age Search of Surveillance Capitalism
It might still seem like a conspiracy to some. However, everything you think you know about the Internet is a lie.
When you install an app on your phone that wants access to your microphone and GPS settings, it doesn’t really want to enhance your user experience. It wants to know where you go.
It also wants to listen to what you talk about—then it wants to sell that information.
American author Shoshana Zuboff, calls the present age we live in one of Surveillance Capitalism. This is an age in which every part of your daily human experience is available to the highest bidder.
- Top trending app TikTok is currently in court in California , as a result of investigations showing that TikTok harvests vast amounts of identifiable user data, then sends this data to China.
- Facebook has been proven to track and harvest the information of non-users through third-party apps and website cookies.
- On average, Google stores the equivalent of 5.5GB on all its users . This equates to enough personal information to fill 3-million Microsoft Word documents.
Poor Internet Privacy and Real-World Crime
While terrifying, what Shoshana Zuboff calls Surveillance Capitalism has only been made possible by consumer ignorance.
If people knew how companies harvest data about their daily lives, few would agree to the terms of service of apps like TikTok. This is why major tech companies keep small print small.
Sadly, there is also a much darker side to poor Internet privacy.
Recent years have already seen spates of kidnappings of people known to own cryptocurrency. Hackers are also starting to use data from online breaches to empty Internet user bank accounts using cellphone sim swaps and what is known in cybersecurity as ‘social engineering.’
How to Reclaim Your Personal Online Privacy in 2021
There is no easy way to completely reclaim your personal Internet privacy in 2021. However, using a VPN when you go online is the best way to start.
Please check our recommended VPN services to find the best one for you.
Online freelancer, owner of Shielded VPN and long time website creator and designer. Happily married man and father of two amazing boys.