The overlapping series of interconnected networks that produced the World Wide Web and the Internet have become a huge platform for all possible types of information. To enumerate some, the Internet serves as a host for textual, audio, visual, or audio-visual information. The different sub-platforms within the world of Internet such as social media networks, encyclopaedic websites, blog sites, video and image hosts, and others have facilitated the way Internet users share different types of information.
The functionality of the Internet has traversed our everyday lives and has bridged the gap between geography and time. Every single day, we go online using our notebooks, tablets, or smartphones browsing the Internet. Most of us are active users of social media networks. In addition, almost everyone, if not all, Internet users have their own e-mail addresses that they use to communicate with others. From time to time, we upload photographs and videos to share with friends and family the most important life experiences we have had. The widespread use of the Internet has compelled us to be online almost every hour of the day.
But the Internet is not only akin to the ordinary, everyday user. The Internet also serves as the platform for some government services, development initiatives, employment and economy, and even business and finance. Various organizations, institutions, and agencies maintain their own website so that users are free to know more about them. Government officers use the Internet to provide their respective services to citizens using an online platform. In addition to this, many websites specialize in online selling to generate profits.
With these various functions that the Internet offers to its users, we can only imagine how much information is stashed in numerous virtual locations in the World Wide Web. Whether this information is highly private to an individual or highly confidential, and should not be viewed but by a few authorized persons, the question that must be addressed is the lame, old Internet data security. How can an individual maintain his or her peace of mind and trust that the contents uploaded online are protected and will not be used for unintended purposes by third-party users?
How does the government protect confidential information when exposed may threaten nationalsecurity? Where do privacy and the right to free information meet? And how do we solve these issues?
In Europe, efforts are being exerted to push an Internet data protection law which seeks to limit the personal information being uploaded online by Internet users. This was featured in New York Times Online. During the initial meeting, big companies such as Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, and IBM participated in support for this law. The law advocates minimizing the data use of online companies such as Facebook and Google. For example, Web tracking and profiling methods would strictly be prohibited in order to prevent other companies from crafting advertisements that target specific sectors of Internet users. Unless individual users have consented to let such companies make use of their personal information, these companies would not be able to access any of the contents that the users upload. Data portability and a huge platform for data privacy regulator are also among the functions of this law.
Becoming aware of the potential threats of social media platforms and the Internet as an information sharing tool can help protect many Internet users. Although the Internet has opened big opportunities for a revolutionized communication process which links us with people anywhere on the globe, we should still be vigilant about the way we share information. In a world where information empowers development, we should also be on guard and watch over the use of our personal and private information.
Knut Harald Nylænde is a business, finance, and management professional who was born and raised in Norway. In addition to his successful Oslo-based investment firm, Knut is also interested in the economic landscape in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe.