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Your Online Privacy in the Hands of Private Companies

Online privacy is as much a fundamental right as our normal privacy, even though it has not been included in the constitution. But the government itself is not too keen on protecting the online privacy of citizens online. Surveillance is on the rise and you can never be sure if the email you sent or the data you uploaded is accessible only for the people you intended to. Anonymous social media accounts also threaten social media privacy.

Your Online PrivacyAll these factors have had a major effect on our online privacy. Your email provider, social media service provider, online security solutions providers, the developers of the apps that you use on your computers and mobile phones: these are the people who should ensure that your online privacy is sound. And the biggest threat is not the hackers or the malicious software that they have planted on the World Wide Web. It is the government that we have to watch out for.

Government agencies and officials have taken over hackers as the biggest online privacy intruders. And worst, the aforementioned private companies are responsible for the first line of defense that protects us against the government intruders.

Numbers Don’t Lie

To back up the claim that private companies hold our online privacy, there are some statics that might surprise you. Leading search engine company Google has said in one of its reports that the United States government has filed close to 8000 requests with the company. The nature of all the requests was demand for user information, something that violates our online privacy. The same holds true in other countries as well with the governments very keen on keeping an eye on the World Wide Web. Dorothy Chou, a senior level policy analyst who works for Google said in the company’s blog that government surveillance is on the rise and there is no way to check it.

25-Year Old Law Is the Basis for Your Privacy Rights

There is no doubt that the laws that govern online privacy are murky at best. This fact has been highlighted by a leading online privacy expert on the condition of anonymity. The expert said that ECPA, or the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, is the law that governs online privacy. This law was formed 25 years ago, at a time when email was in its ancient form and no one had an inkling of what online social media or GPS was.

Privacy Policies of Private Companies Call The Shots

With so many irregularities in the government, your privacy is at the mercy of the privacy policies that these IT companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft among others implement. The government is always involved in some form of behind-the-scenes arm twisting to extract vital information about users. While these companies fight hard, it is very difficult to refuse the government consistently. This is because these companies have billions of dollars’ worth business to run in the country and if the government rebels, the damage to business could be catastrophic.

The Situation is Worse in Communist Countries like China

While you have an inkling of online privacy in countries like US, the situation is worse in communist countries like China. All the online content has to be approved by the government and the government withholds exclusive rights for censoring any content posted on the internet. Worse, you cannot even protest against it citing your fundamental rights because there are no laws that can back you. The Great Firewall of China is already well known and recent reports are suggesting that Russia has started a similar venture. All we can hope for is some sort of a serious global revolution for online privacy rights.

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