Now You Can Enforce Your Privacy Rights With A Single Browser Tick

from ars technica

Anyone who remembers Do Not Track—the initiative that was supposed to allow browser users to reclaim their privacy on the Web—knows it was a failure. Not only did websites ignore it, using it arguably made people less private because it made them stick out. Now, privacy advocates are back with a new specification, and this time they’ve brought the lawyers.

Under the hood, the specification, known as Global Privacy Control, works pretty much the same way Do Not Track did. A small HTTP header informs sites that a visitor doesn’t want their data sold. The big difference this time is the enactment of the Consumer Privacy Act in California and, possibly, the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe, both of which give consumers broad rights over how their private information can be used.

At the moment, California residents who don’t want websites to sell their data must register their choice with each site, often each time they visit it. That’s annoying and time-consuming. But the California law specifically contemplates “user-enabled global privacy controls, such as a browser plug-in or privacy setting,” that signal the choice. That’s what the Global Privacy Control—or GPC—does.

“It’s the goal of this effort to help define a mechanism that could satisfy, initially, CCPA’s requirement for a ‘global privacy control,’” Ashkan Soltani, the privacy researcher who helped lead the initiative, said. But he said GPC “is extensible to apply to other privacy laws, such as GDRP, should policymakers deem it adequate for exercising those rights in those jurisdictions.”

More here.

Posted in Privacy and tagged , , , , , , .

29 Comments

  1. Upon reading the title of this article, I was misled to feel excited. As someone who understands how potent companies are in their data collection practices, I deeply value the right to data privacy. I also know first-hand that companies do not need infinite amounts of data to predict human behavior. The reason these companies desire to extract more and more data from consumers is because it makes their predictions more accurate and improves their business’s stability.

    There are several problems with businesses failing to regard consumer privacy rights. For one, small businesses often do not possess the ability to extract data on such a massive scale that large corporations can. Furthermore, ignoring data privacy rights fuels the income inequality problem even further in America. The ultimate goal of companies that are harvesting big data is to sell as much of the product for the highest price acceptable to consumers. If companies are able to collect data on such a large, unaccountable scale, they could manipulate that same data to guide consumer sentiment toward accepting higher prices for lower quality.

    Furthermore, most consumers are unaware of how valuable their data is to their companies. If they comprehended the value of their data, they surely wouldn’t sign over their data privacy rights to companies for free. This is akin to an oil company drilling on your land without notification from the company that precious crude oil exists on your land. If we don’t act to extend privacy protections to personal data in the same way we extend privacy protections to private property, we could enter into serious deprivations at the hands of both the government and private enterprise.

  2. It is ironic that there should be an article on Shannon Web dealing with privacy, especially at the time of this writing that I have had encounters with privacy defying situations. More specifically, my friend had his debit card information stolen, and now has to wait forty five days for the bank to fix his situation. Not only that, I got a call from my father advising me to move money into savings, as my eldest sister had experienced the same situation as well, making the timing of this article all the more ironic and appealing to comment on. While having only been to California on a fun vacation to visit my two uncles who live there, I am familiar with how recently passed laws and regulations have been largely geared towards consumer protections and rights. Going from this recent record, this is another move by a state pulling the rest of the country up with it, rather than waiting for federal action to protect individual rights. But regardless, the importance of California going forward with user rights on the internet is extremely important in an age where friends and family can have their information stolen, both by criminals looking to make a profit and corporations looking to sell your information for a profit. This law, along with the General Data Protection Regulation based in Europe, push forward the idea that rights on the internet should have included unalienable privacy a long time ago. However, it is once again the federal level that seems to take this as more of a suggestion than the important protection it should be. Even though this story is a bit old, the simple fact that Edward Snowden uncovered a heinous plot by the federal government to spy on its citizens through the National Security Administration, and he is still not able to come back into the country for fear of repercussions is a blight on the image of the United States as a whole, at least in claiming this is the “land of the free.” So seeing these protections being levied towards the general population, at least for me, is no guarantee that every attempt at pushing away invasive breaches of privacy is gonna work, whether the perpetrators be the federal government trying to “protect” us or corporations seeing my presence as mere dollar signs to be added to their income statements. In other words, if this law actually works, then great! But I think I’ll still just stick to my Virtual Private Network and leave it at that.

  3. According to the article, people should be using different types of privacy precautions before logging onto websites. A lot of people that use the internet do not know that some of their information is being used in regard to websites selling their information to other companies. It is important that people start to protect their information from being sold. Before reading this article I thought that there was a privacy company that could totally control the privacy of peoples information. I did not know that other companies that tried to do that failed before. With internet privacy being a developing business this gives a lot of opportunity to new internet privacy companies.

    In the article is also explains that residents of California need to register each site in order to keep their information safe. It would be helpful if these privacy companies come out with a software so people did not have to register and at the same time could maintain their privacy while browsing the websites they like. A problem with having to register is the amount of time it would consume. Hopefully for peoples privacy there will be a new act passed so privacy software’s can protect people information no matter what site they are on and where they live.

    I think that it would be a smart idea for an internet browser and the privacy company to pair up and work together to make a safe and effective software to help keeps people information safe. This collaboration would be extremely effective because the internet browser company knows a lot about both users of the internet and internet safety and the privacy seeking company knows a lot about keeping people’s information safe. It is important to quickly solve this problem so people’s information can remain private and safe while they browse the internet. I am very interested to see how companies will deal with internet safety in the near future and the costs associated with it.

  4. Privacy has been a huge topic in the internet world. Individual’s internet activity gets sold by companies which compromises the user’s privacy. Browsers like Duck Duck Go and Brave keep browser history private, which is attractive to users. Instead of having to put privacy mode on, privacy will be on by default. This is really helpful because a lot of times, people do not even realize that their data is not protected. With the recent IOS update, a tracker mode was implemented into the new update. Apps can track what the users did on the apps and what users do on other websites without asking for the user’s consent. Once the device is updated, this tracking ability is automatically turned on and must be manually turned off. This just goes to show that companies do not really care for people’s rights to privacy. Many ad companies make a lot of money off of selling peoples activities on the internet, so of course they are going to continue to sell users data. Duck Duck Go comes with privacy on by default so users do not have to worry about manually turning it on. Like I previously stated, this is a really good idea because the act of registering for privacy with each of the websites every time the website is used is very time consuming and tedious. Many companies support these private browsers which is good because the private browsers may become universal. However, in these early stages, the private browsers may make it rough for IT workers. One of my family members works in IT and she had to pass on one of the tickets she received because of her unfamiliarity with Duck Duck Go. As these private browsers continue to evolve, the issues with them will be fixed and they will become more reliable. I am happy browser privacy is becoming more relevant because a lot of people are being taken advantage of and they do not even know it. There are many older people, grandparents, who do not really know how to operate an iPhone, but they have one because it is very easy and convenient. It is hard for them to understand the concept of texting, let alone finding the obsolete place to turn of company’s ability to track their data usage. These browsers will become more reliable and rather quickly because of how fast technology evolves.

  5. This article reminds me of the Netflix documentary: The Social Dilemma. The documentary features former senior employees of major tech companies that are concerned about the commercial use of personal data, both for individuals and societies as a whole.
    An important misconception is that these tech companies sell our data. While that’s close to the truth, the reality is that our data is provided to advertisers who then use it to build targeted advertisements. The tech firms then charge fees for displaying those ads on their platforms.
    The problem is that revenue from advertising is volume-driven. Therefore, there is an incentive to make social media, streaming services, and video libraries as addictive as possible to increase your screentime. The longer you are on Instagram, for example, the more ads it can put into your feed.
    Whether or not the marketing firms can optimally mold advertisements by using your data, the tech firms will continue to try to push your screentime as high as possible. While providing the means for targeting advertising is incredibly profitable, getting a user to see a generic ad still brings in revenue.
    However, the concern among privacy advocates is that their data may be leaked or hacked and used for nefarious purposes, such as influencing your political views, as Cambridge Analytica did so effectively in 2016 in both the US and the UK.
    With all that considered, I believe that the best course of action for individuals is to reduce their screentime on the apps of big tech firms. By spending less time on these apps, you reduce the amount of data they can collect.
    I have turned off notification on my cellphone for Snapchat, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and I saw my hours per week spent on those apps plummet over 50%. Also, within those apps, I have set my privacy settings to the strictest levels possible. You will get a warning along the lines of “we can provide a better user experience by enabling this setting”…they’re full of it. I noticed no difference whatsoever.

  6. Privacy is one thing that I take especially serious. People tend to stare when I tell them how many privacy-enabling extensions I run on my laptop, or how I do not use google as my primary search engine, but duckduckgo. Privacy is very difficult to keep in todays climate, as everything that is connected online sends information about you one way or the other. This information can be utilized to cater to you, but sometimes this catering goes too far. When individual websites can see what it is I am enjoying and/or consuming online, the algorithm behind what shows up on my feed will tend to lean in that direction. This may seem positive to some, but to me it represents forming my opinions against my will. I do not wish to be catered to when I am not seeking it. I think it is nefarious that many guidelines like that described in the article tend to amount to “opt-out” kind of privacy concerns. Privacy should be expected not asked for.

  7. Privacy on the internet is very important to me so once I saw this blog’s title, I was very interested. Right in the first paragraph I learned something new. I learned about “Do Not Track” which the purpose of it was to allow web users to reclaim their privacy on the internet. Do Not Track failed so horribly that it actually left web users more exposed then ever. There is a new version that hopefully will work called “Global Privacy Control”. The big difference between the two is now there is the Consumer Privacy Act in California and the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe that legally gives web users the rights to determine how their private information can be used. Yes, this is only a California law and residents have to register to protect their privacy, but this is a step in the right direction. The only web browsers to implement Global Privacy Control are Brave and Duck Duck Go. It is a step in the right direction, but I feel like we really need the big web browsers to support this privacy system for it to be successful. Privacy on the internet is no joke and is something basically everyone takes seriously. So much money is stolen yearly through hacked debit and credit cards. With this software in place, it would greatly help decrease how much credit and debit card fraud there is in our country. I would also not be surprised if Brave and Duck Duck Go gain lots of customers. If security and privacy is something people value lots of people will switch over to those two browsers. If the switch is significant enough, I am sure many other browsers will follow in implementing this software so they can keep up with the competition. There is also lots of robot accounts all over social media that is a big issue. These robot accounts will try to direct message many people to try to steal money. If these browsers could prevent that it would be huge. I also believe that all the states and even the federal government should follow California’s lead and pass similar legislation. If the whole country and federal government got behind internet privacy then things could really improve. Internet privacy should be a top priority in our country and I do think we need to take steps going forward to improve it. I hope to see these steps taken as we go forward as a society.

  8. The title of the article led me to believe we finally lived in a time where internet users rights were protected, I was sorely mistaken. One major issue with major corporations using data collected by internet participants is selling ad space. While this idea seems harmless, the ads we see are directly geared for our individual interests. This results in companies showing products for higher prices for the same or similar products to scam the consumer. It also denies smaller businesses access to compensation as they can not gain access to the same information and mega companies. Essentially, it eliminates the already non-existent playing field completely. The average consumer has little to no idea how important their data is to these major companies. While purchasing items geared for your interests, you are essentially giving the company more profit as they sold the exact item to their intended consumer. There is no compensation for the consumer which is incredibly unfortunate as the consumer is being tricked into buying a product. There is little to no privacy on the internet which has become extremely alarming as of late with the deposition of Mark Zuckerberg who harvested the data of millions of underage children between the ages of 15-17 on Facebook. The same laws that keep children safe in the present world should be applied to the online world as well as we tend to live on our phones. There is no privacy online which will continue to result in the misuse and abuse of our information.

  9. Data privacy has been an issue as long as it has been profitable to sell such information. Some people wonder how sites like Google, Twitter, Instagram, and other online entities operate when their services are entirely free. The truth is that they profit from selling your data. The online service they provide may be free for anyone to use, but don;t think that they are not getting their cut one way or another. Like the article mentioned, the customer does not have a say in their own privacy. Even if they opt for the “Do not track” feature, the website was not legally obliged to comply. Many people are completely oblivious to the fact that their data is silently being collected while they browse the internet.

    The Consumer Privacy Act passed in California changes things however. Users that clearly choose their own privacy specification on a website must be adhered to. So far, this is a prototype that is only available for Brave and Duck Duck Go browsers. If something like this can make it to more mainstream browsers, the impact for consumer privacy could be substantial. While more well known browsers such as Mozilla have voiced their support, I believe the concern over Google’s compliance could be an issue. Google is a massive service that branches so many other areas other than search engines. So far, there have not been any comments by them when it comes to this new idea. Should Google partake in this privacy control project, it could mean many new things for their business collecting data.

  10. Data privacy is the new biggest thing people should care about when doing anything revolving around the internet. When you go to a site currently you give the site the right to track what you do and browse. Most people do this without even being aware they have given the sites the right to do this to them and even when were they given the right to do this. Companies such as Google, Twitter, and Amazon directly have algorithms that track your past browsing actions, predict what you would like to see, and even some you allow to access your microphone, present you with items you have recently spoken about. Governments everywhere have been fighting to protect the consumer and browser better and make them well aware of what companies are truly doing with their info. California is now the first to fully pass an act through that will allow this and hopefully that holds through and works correctly. If correctly inforced it can be a stepping stone for all others to look at and eventually federally placed to limit the power these companies are given over us. The issue with these companies is that it isn’t a human providing you with what you see, it is a ai that now has full control over your life and what you shall see when opening the internet. We need to began to limit the power the AIs have and realize that without a brain they can begin to recommend things not truly good for society.

  11. Privacy has been a big issue on the internet for many years now with sites wanting access to the data and suers wanting to keep their data private. I myself am fairly paranoid when it comes to my privacy. All of my browsers have many settings designed so that when I use them my data is as protected as it can be. My computer has none of my passwords saved and blocks anything it can such as cookies, history, and also clears any data on browser exit. What I find disturbing is that despite my best efforts my friends and I often find ourselves talking about some new release of tech or content and before I even search it on my phone or computer, I see ads for the specific thing my friends and I were referencing. After reading this article I will have to give duckduckgo a chance and see if there are any differences in how much data my devices seem to have about me.
    Duckduckgo’s implementation of the control works the way that the ‘Do Not Track’ initiative was supposed to, but with new legislation in place sites will be forced to follow the user’s request. The ‘Do Not Track’ initiative failed because websites were not legally required to uphold user’s requests resulting in websites ignoring requests or flagging them as potentially more interesting because they do not want to be tracked. The legislation in California and in Europe is forcing websites to accommodate the request. The legislation in California is called the Consumer Privacy Act and its counterpart in Europe is called the General Data Protection Regulation. This is similar to the ‘Do Not Track’ initiative, but this time privacy advocates have the backing of lawyers and legislation.

  12. I feel that data privacy is a very alarming and hard topic. I personally feel that anyone who is really looking to find your data can achieve what they are looking to find. That being said, I still think we should make it as hard as possible for the hackers and people who are looking to steal private data. Companies do not need all the information they ask for to see how to improve their companies and to predict the future. The creation of Brave and Duck Duck Go may be groundbreaking in data privacy. As Brave and Duck Duck Go are web browsers automatically does your data privacy for you however you want it and most importantly, they keep your information safe. This could be extremely useful in states like California where users must manually input their data privacy with every site that they go on, which as the article describes as “annoying and time consuming”. The company says already tens of millions of people are already using the browsers. I thought that it was particularly interesting that Mozilla, the company that owns Firefox, is in favor and support of the GPC movement, yet they are currently are not working on including the data protection program into their browsers yet. I saw this as a good move by Mozilla because of the recent failure of Do Not Track, there is not a guarantee that GPC will be any better, especially as GPC will be going up against competition just as good. Hopefully, there is success with GPC and users can still roam with web but with added safety and help for when you do get in a sticky situation. As one of my fellow classmates Zac said, I think it would be extremely effective if the web browsers would in tandem with the privacy companies. This maximizes efficiency as both parties would be working on the same page.

  13. Privacy is something so important to so many, yet is often over looked. I know in recent years this has been a topic getting more attention. To me, its due to everyone being more aware of this. When online advertising was a newer concept, no one knew what was really going on. Now having news and media channels constantly covering it, privacy has become something more important to people. The really crazy thing to be is the whole concept of your data being sold in the first place. Not many people are aware of this even in the first place. The average user just may not want there information out there, let alone it being sold to different companies. This really came to light with Facebook, and their announcement of doing this.
    Being able to enforce your privacy is something that is really important. Being able to have your data not sold is something a think a lot of people including myself would find really valuable. I know this is just about user data but hopefully this could help with protection from being hacked online or having your very personal information leaked. I’m not sure the capacity this system being used will have, but there is always going to be room for improvement. I think that one of the early upgrades should be using the system for every website and just not one visit. Meaning that as stated in your blog, that a user shouldn’t have to resubmit this every time they need to use a website. That would be a lot of wasted time.
    I know it only brings up data being sold but I think this may be an issue in the argument. Facebook was either selling data or charging companies to access users based on there data. This may see like the same thing, but legally it is different. If they get it approved and its all set for data being sold, these companies may be able to work around it by “charging companies to access users based on there data”. I just don’t want these groups working so hard to fight for rights, just for there to be a legal loop hole. Overall, I’m excited to see how this works out and if the option for a single click can protect my privacy online.

  14. To begin, as a business analytics major, I understand both sides to the problem at hand. First, businesses need data from every which way they can get it because depending on the results of the data collected it guides them in making business decisions for the company. On the flip side, people feel violated when companies collect data of themselves and their preferences that will be used to benefit that company and other companies because data gets sold all the time. A data broker/company who sells information can make a good amount of money because that information is so valuable to others. According to the article, a new Do No Track initiative has come to the market and this one is backed by newly enacted laws. Global Privacy Control has created Under the hood, which allows browser users to reclaim their privacy on the Web while informing sites that the individual does not want their data to be sold to outside parties. Under the Consumer Privacy Act in California and, if applicable, the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe, both give consumers some rights over how their private data can be collected and stored. At the moment, residents in California have to registered to each site that they do not want their data to be sold. However, Californian law contemplates that. Only browser developers have committed to implementing the control but many outside support has come for Global Privacy Control including The New York Times, The Washington Times, Automattic, etc. With the backing of these entities as well as politicians/lawyers GPC has a chance to accomplish what the last data protection initiative could not do. I believe that even though companies will be hurt by people not allowing them to collect their data it is ultimately up to the individual browsing the website if their data can be taken or not.

  15. We all use technology on a daily basis, so new worries have come to light. Privacy being one of the most important ones. Every time I go onto a new site on the internet, there is always a pop ad asking if I would like to allow cookies. In the beginning, I did not know what this was, so I always said yes. Now, I do know what that means and I always say no, but who knows if my information still gets out there. Allowing cookies means that you allow your information to be public to help you find the things you are interested in. Facebook is a big issue because whenever I look something up on the internet, then go on facebook, there are advertisements on the product I was looking up on the internet just seconds before.

    Many people worry about this because credit cards, social security and several other personal information can get out there. Many people, as a result of this, get their identity stolen. It may not be a case of getting an identity stolen, but many websites sell personal information to other companies for profit. In the article, it mentions two browsers that are starting to help with this called Brave and DuckDuckGo. While reading more about these browsers, this might be the new way people go on the internet. Although DuckDuckGo is the only browser up and running, firefox is also working on the browser that helps keep personal information safe. We are all hopeful that these browsers work, so that in the future we can keep our personal information safe and worry about our credit card numbers being used by someone else.

  16. I am surprised that enforcing privacy rights for people using the internet are only now becoming a concern for legislators. It is generally known that when using the internet, government tracks information and search history for anything deemed as suspicious and corporations collect vast quantities of data to sell to others for a profit. The Do Not Track feature was, to no surprise, a failure at protecting the data of internet users. Websites ignored it, and using it made the user stick out like a sore thumb. Now, with the implementation of Global Privacy Control, the situation of data collection can potentially change for the greater good. People should not have to constantly worry that they are being surveilled and followed every time they try to find information on the internet.

    A criticism I have of the Global Privacy Control is that each individual website must be registered for its use, and even if it is registered with its use, the user must activate it every time the website is visited. This process can end up being very tedious and time-consuming, especially if someone wants to get something done quickly. One comment mentioned creating a privacy software to assist in protecting peoples’ data. I think this is a great idea, as a privacy software would enable internet users to explore websites of their choosing without having to worry about companies collecting their data. Protecting peoples’ privacy rights is incredibly important and currently, new obstacles will have to be surpassed to ensure that those rights are kept unalienable. Big government and big business alike must be kept in their place; they can never be big enough to be inconsequentially above the law.

  17. I am glad that somebody is finally getting around to tackling the issue of privacy on the web. This is something that has been in the news recently due to the Tik Tok controversy and others, however it does not seem as though many people talk about it outside of small circles. Perhaps features like the one mentioned in the article will provide a much-needed solution to this issue. I do not find it at all shocking at all that obscure browsers like Brave and Duck Duck Go are the only ones to fully initiate this. The appeal to such browsers is that they avoid the typical cons of using mainstream engines like Google. You do not have to worry about search results being selectively chosen to support certain narratives, and now you do not have to worry about corporations tracking your data. It will be interesting to see how this new feature will influence traffic away or towards certain browsers that choose to implement it. Will it even be significant enough for an engine like Google to care?

    Furthermore, who has the final say in how far this legislation actually goes in practice? If Google decides they do not want to have a Global Privacy Feature on their browser, who do they have to answer to? The government bodies meant to regulate this sort of thing have already made privacy an opt in sort of system, so its doubtful that the average person will even be aware it exists.

    I also find it odd that the California law requires users to manually declare their choice each time they visit a website. It seems as though this law was written with the intention of being a loophole to be avoided rather than a meaningful step towards change. If this law were to have any meaningful effect, it would be written in such a way where users would have to opt in to having their data tracked rather than the reverse. Global Privacy Control seems to be a way of forcing the law to work in a way that the citizenry would actually want it to. Its very existence is an representation of how law makers are failing the people they are meant to represent and protect.

  18. It is very scary and alarming that the privacy issues on the internet are still prevalent. It also makes a lot of sense because people are able to get away with a lot more and their IP’s will not be able to be tracked down. As for the government, if they sell or even share personal information from people, that is an abuse of power. This is also a Constitutional issue here, and that is the right to privacy. This right is listed in multiple parts of the Constitution, such as the First Amendment: Provides the freedom to choose any kind of religious belief and to keep that choice private, the Third Amendment which protects the zone of privacy of the home, the Fourth Amendment which protects the right of privacy against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, and the Fifth Amendment which provides for the right against self-incrimination, which justifies the protection of private information.
    Another thing this article showed me was how ahead of the game California seems to be on a lot of topics. California had enacted the Consumer Privacy Act which gives consumers broad rights on how their private information can be used. This act is a large step towards privacy for all on the internet, and hopefully can be the beginning of the end for the government’s abuse of power. Another huge example of California being ahead of the game is California passing Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which legalized marijuana in California. They were the first state in the country to do that, and they were ahead of their time. 13 states have done it since. We had a TID discussion about the legalization of marijuana, and I could not help but think how revolutionary California had made it. Now, they are the first state to pass the Consumer Privacy Act.
    What I also found interesting was that in order for this to work, most times, you had to turn the setting on that keeps your data private every time you go onto the site, even if you have been on it before. I think it is great that this is available, and will start being available to other states, but the process is tedious, and probably will not be used much if that is the case. So, no matter what, our data will continue to be sold without any repercussions.

  19. There are some truly interesting points and debates that can be made about the future of internet privacy because it is such a wide-reaching technology that affects not only the everyday lives of the majority of people but continues to evolve in ways that are not always beneficial to those same people. Rather, it’s important to note that the internet itself is not really the issue for privacy since it’s simply a means to transfer and access data based on protocols. This is comparable to the way we access destinations via an airport that we pay for and utilize when needed. This analogy is important, but more on that later. The issues that the failed “Do Not Track” initiative (cited in the article) could not effectively respond to originate solely from commercial usage of the internet as a means to profit off of raw data. The data analytics sector, as many business students are aware, is growing at a fantastic rate because of the vast quantities of available data and demand for creating usable metrics and insights from this data. The largest data companies are largely to blame for the current lack of privacy on the internet. Most websites are at least fairly competent at keeping private information safe from malicious individuals. However, who they see as malicious individuals, and who the consumer sees as malicious are not structured in nearly the same way. The moral minimum concept can certainly be applied in this scenario and accordingly, most internet-based companies and websites are probably NOT doing the moral minimum. The selling of personal data to other websites (usually specified in EULA) is legal in most areas, however, is it ethical? If you’re an average citizen you probably value privacy and would consider the selling of your personal habits and tendencies a breach of privacy. The selling of this info may not be explicitly harmful, but I believe the idea of that personal information being seen by others without direct consent is harmful enough to consumers on its own.

    Now the analogy to an airport is interesting because I feel it can help put the arguments for privacy into perspective. When visiting an airport and traveling within or through the United States there are certain rights and normalities that are arguably compromised and given up in exchange for access to the PRIVILEGE of travel. While I may disagree with the companies that unethically collect and sell data without consent, I feel the argument for absolute privacy on the internet is difficult for the same reasons that a less invasive atmosphere is difficult to implement at U.S. airports. The internet is a technology that we access through the purchase of hardware, software, and data transfer capabilities. It’s not something that you are born with, and there is no natural right attached to its access. I feel that when an individual accesses the internet if they have an understanding of the internal workings and mechanisms that enable its usage and continued operation, they would likely also understand that you give up a reasonable expectation of privacy in many areas. Simply put, I don’t think there’s any natural right to privacy over the internet in the same way that there is no reasonable right to privacy in many public places. Conversely, I would argue that any internet usage explicitly required by a government entity or business for an individual to utilize should be protected under a privacy umbrella when there are no reasonably accessible alternatives for an individual to use. For example, registering a vehicle where in-person registration no longer takes place, paying a bill at a bank that no longer accepts mail-in payments, filing taxes online where certain forms of filing or access are unique and not accessible through a paper form. These situations cannot be avoided by an individual and should be protected under a definitive blanket privacy act. I’m certainly playing devil’s advocate here because I do like the idea of internet privacy, I just think there will be disproportionate pushback from the companies that profit off the lack of privacy that individuals simply won’t be able to overcome.

    Another very interesting thing to consider is that many websites that provide free services and materials to individuals are dependent on the revenue they receive from the sale of user data. Without this revenue and with the advertisement revenue rapidly diminishing, we may see many websites start to struggle with providing free access. People love privacy but I would argue that a lot of people (probably not a majority but close) value-free information and access more so than their own privacy. What if Facebook started charging $10 a month for access? How many people would still use the site if there were ANY free alternatives available? Surely, site traffic would drop, and then ad revenue would be in freefall. I feel that a balance is liable to develop between privacy and access freedom as we watch these events progress. Without the revenue from data sale, I believe we’ll lose free access to a multitude of sites and some may collapse altogether. Interestingly, I haven’t seen many others address the financial implications of complete privacy but I think many companies will be willing to put up billions in court to prevent. In fact, I believe the reason why the “Do not track” option in California (specified in the article) is not legally required as a default setting for every user is most likely for fear of expensive court battles with the companies that would lose millions in revenue instantly if it were. I would speculate that this legislation seeks to create privacy for those who care and keep companies profiting off of the majority who don’t care.

  20. In this day and age, people are on their computers using the internet a large majority of their day. Especially with many companies transferring their data into cloud computing, the issue of data security has become a larger issue. Specifically, younger generations are utilizing the internet more and more at a younger age. In the United States of America, we have certain rights we retain – even in a virtual environment. Some legislation that protects Americans in an online environment include the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act (CFAA) of 1986 and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1998. The first of which, “makes unlawful certain computer-related activities involving the unauthorized access of a computer to obtain certain information, defraud or obtain anything of value, transmit harmful items, or traffic in computer passwords” (Thomson Reuters). The second of which, “requires certain website and online service providers to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from minors under the age of 13. It also requires websites to post an online privacy policy, collect only the personal information necessary, and create and maintain reasonable security measures” (Thomson Reuters). However, many children could just as easily bypass such requirements and often times do. Therefore, much of their personal information is out there from a younger age not understanding the concept that everything on the Internet is out there forever, which has the possibility of impacting their future negatively. Hence, having such an option to protect citizens from their personal data being collected and then sold by vendors is a very important and prominent piece of legislation in the US.

    Works Cited: https://legal.thomsonreuters.com/en/insights/articles/how-your-personal-information-is-protected-online#:~:text=There%20is%20no%20single%20law%20regulating%20online%20privacy.&text=Electronic%20Communications%20Privacy%20Act%20(ECPA,access%2C%20use%2C%20and%20disclosure.

  21. I started reading this article because I was interested to see how we can easily protect or privacy while on browsers as stated. However, after reading it appears that the title is misleading, and we are still not there yet. The article addresses the importance of privacy in search engines and the Consumer Privacy Act which was passed in California. This act allows users to choose to have websites not to sell their information to companies, but the process can be tedious and is not to effective. At the moment it is only available on more private browsers such as Brave and DuckDuckGo, two browser that I have never heard of until reading this article. I never realized how much data was collected from browser users and I was unaware of what they did with it other than targeted ads. Companies such as Amazon and Google have algorithms that can track your browser history to predict what you would like. They then send these targeted ads to you with the hopes of getting you to spend more money. Some companies even use microphones to hear conversations and present you with products that you have talked about. This has happened to me many times where I had a conversation about something and then within a few days I see an add for said product on my twitter or Instagram feed. This has always made me uneasy because who knows how much they are recording? Seeing browser history is one thing but recording conversations is a huge invasion of privacy. It is because of this that I hope the actions the CPA can aid in creating an enforceable “Do Not Track” initiative that can truly protect the privacy of users. There is very little privacy while on the web and many people do not realize how much of their information is being taken without their knowledge. It is because of this that an effective means of browser security needs to be created and implemented on mainstream browsers.

  22. Privacy is a huge concern for most people. Many individuals are unaware that websites that they visit, track their data and possibly sell it to others. This initiate being set into action is a great start to help individuals protect their privacy. However, since there are only a few companies that are working with this initiative, it makes me wonder if it will ever actually work. Companies like Google and Bing which are huge search engines are not on the list of those that are in support or trying it out. I do believe that with the assistance of attorney’s that the initiative may gain traction. Even if this is enacted across all search engines and websites, I do not believe it will stop the collection of individuals data. Right now, even being extremely vigilant in protecting your own privacy, an individual can search for shoes online and within seconds, your Facebook feed is inundated with shoe sales. There is certainly a connection to a person’s search history and what other companies know about you and what your interests are. While I believe this is a step in the right direction for protecting privacy, I think more needs to be done.

  23. Everyone should have privacy when surfing the internet, whether it is just a quick google search, or online shopping on a fashion website for a pair of jeans. Privacy on the internet should not be a debate, having the feeling of your regular internet transactions are secured is something everyone should have. Companies having privacy breaches is a very big deal for the general public. Credit card data, addresses, and emails are leaked and can potentially put someone in a very bad situation. Especially, if the people that caused the breach get into the financial data, the money of hundreds of customers is put at risk. Applications like Facebook selling consumer data to other companies is also a breach of privacy. For example, if someone searches something on the internet to buy, and the advertisement pops up on Facebook is a problem. How does the internet browser know that the search for that product was initially searched? Companies tracking people all over the internet for data is just not a good thing, and does not make anyone feel safe, or have that sense of privacy. No one wants that feeling of someone looking over their shoulder every five seconds, but in this case it is companies looking at the consumers and their behavior on the internet. The Firefox developer, Mozilla, supporting the privacy of everyone on the internet is a great step forward. “People’s data rights must be recognized and respected, and this is a step in the right direction. We look forward to working with the rest of the web standards community to bring these protections to everyone.” Bringing privacy settings to everyone that uses the web should already be an initiative. However, since Mozilla is taking that step forward for everyone first, hopefully everyone that is an internet provider will fall in line, and keep their users privacy intact while they are using their browser.

  24. This article made it seem like they already have the program set to go. It’s not, and only certain providers have it available right now. Everyone should have privacy when on the internet. It shouldn’t matter what the person is doing. If it’s just to use google or online shop you are entitled to your privacy. Once a company gets your info it is able to track it and it doesn’t always ask you for permission. Just like when I’m online shopping and I suddenly get an email or a Facebook ad with what I was shopping for. Something has to change in order to provide more privacy for people.

  25. This article, written by Dan Goodin, brought forth a topic that I was not familiar with in the slightest: internet security. When we browse the web every day, our searches, time spent on certain websites, and other information are gathered by corporations so they can target advertising. They usually do this through something called cookies. For instance, If I am in the market for a good protein powder, I may search Amazon or any other fitness website. The next time I visit Amazon or even go on Facebook or Instagram, I will have ads targeted at me with various workout products like protein powder, pre-workout powder, and other supplements. This has drawn issue with many because they see this as a violation of privacy. I am one of these people. To me, corporations gathering your information to target advertising may be convenient for the user, but it is definitely an invasion of privacy. Though I’ve found no basis to the claim I’m about to make, I have heard people I know tell me similar stories. One day, my father and I were talking about converting some old photos we had in our house to a digital format so we could save them on a hard drive. We hadn’t searched for this online. It was just a topic we were discussing person to person. About five minutes later as I’m scrolling through my Instagram feed, I was targeted with an advertisement for a company that took old photos and digitized them to be saved on a hard drive. I had goosebumps. It seemed as if one of these companies had targeted an advertisement based on the information that traveled through my phone’s microphone. Keep in mind, when you first try to post on any of these social media platforms, they ask for permission to use your microphone and camera, in case you want to take a photo or video on the app itself. This worried me because targeting ads based on a private conversation between me and my father seemed highly unethical, though I must admit it could have just been a freak coincidence. This is why the Global Privacy Control is so important. I for one don’t want my information given to these corporations. That’s why GPC is beneficial to all Americans who use it. According to a tweet by Xavier Beccera, “ This proposed standard is a first step towards a meaningful global privacy control that will make it simple and easy for consumers to exercise their privacy rights online.” This sums it up better than I can. Don’t let advertisers take your information. Use the GPC browser extension.

  26. This article discusses the importance of cyber security and the creation of a new and improved form of privacy protection. People used a system called “Do Not Track” previously, which supposedly allowed web users to keep their personal information safe while browsing the web. On the contrary, using this “Do Not Track” system had the opposite effect. Those who decided to use this system were made targets to those who looked to sell their information online. According to the article, it states… “Anyone who remembers Do Not Track – the initiative that was supposed to allow browser users to reclaim their privacy on the Web – knows it was a failure. Not only did websites ignore it, (but) using it arguably made people less private because it made them stick out”. Seeing that the previous form of privacy protection was ultimately a failure, it became clear that a more efficient and effective replacement was needed. The new system is called Global Privacy Control, and it allows people to freely browse websites without having to worry about their information being sold.

    With the enactment of the Consumer Privacy Policy in California and the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe, consumers have more control over how their private information can actually be used. As of the point in time the article was first published, only a handful of web browsers are currently using GPC. Duck Duck Go and Brave were the first two web browsers to commit to implementing control. However, more web browsers are beginning to take interest in GPC. Firefox developer Mozilla is also considering to implement control as well, stating that GPC can very well be the future of true global web privacy. Quoted from the article… “Mozilla is pleased to support the Global Privacy Control initiative. People’s data rights must be recognized and respected, and this is a step in the right direction. We look forward to working with the rest of the web standards community to bring these protections to everyone”. Hopefully as time goes on, more web browsers will adopt this system not just in California, but all around the globe as well.

    I’m sure that any web browser will gladly welcome a system that specializes in more effective and efficient cyber security for their users. Especially in the time that we’re living in now, hackers are more dangerous than ever. It can’t be stressed enough how important it is for people to keep their personal information safe while using the web. Once someone is able to access your personal information, he/she is free to use it however they like until further notice, leading to countless cases of fraudulent action. Innocent people can still suffer serious harm from actions done under his/her name, even if that name was used by someone else. If GPC truly is as capable as it claims to be, then I have high hopes for the future of cyber security.

  27. Privacy is one of the most important things you need on the internet, for example for people not being able to see what you’re doing and what you’re typing or see you through your little camera for Mac user is very good to know. Now that we can use privacy rights or have privacy tabs is very good to our use because of the way we want to help each other. this is because you don’t have to worry about someone else being in your business and having to hide anything due to the fact that you may have your own private space and that is very good. Many internet browsers are supporting the fact that they all can have their own privacy and from large companies agreeing with it then it should only get better and maintain a level of stability throughout having privacy. Having internet safety is very important, especially in the world we live in now with the high level of technology and how we have so many hackers, and you never know when you can be getting hacked and it doesn’t end up for you. many people have important information and important data on their computers, and if someone leaks it or takes it, it can make you in very deep trouble. people can fake their identity as you, and you wouldn’t even know, so safety from the internet is a must, and it should be approved and only get better. Global privacy is very important, and we should push for it to be added sooner than later.. You also have to be careful and not have your camera on and mic on at all times, sometimes people tend to think that someone is watching or the ” govt is listening ” and you never know but hackers may install something through you computer and you can be getting watched and not even bat an eye. it is very scary and dangerous on how the technology works, that’s why we need to have safety pre-cautions for every new thing we bring into this world.

    • Hi there, I enjoyed reading your post. I think that the point you made about internet safety is so important to this article. Our data needs to be protected not only from sale by companies but from threat of hacking. Hopefully initiatives like the one in the article will bear this in mind as they move forward

  28. Once again, I selected this article because of its relation to data privacy which is closely related to my research project topic. As a result of some research I’ve done prior to this I’m very familiar with the California Consumer Privacy Act, which is mentioned in this article. The purpose of the article is to describe a renewed effort in protecting data privacy. In the past there was an initiative called “Do Not Track” which sought to prevent websites from tracking users and their data, to put it simply this initiative was not successful. However, after the CCPA and General Data Protection Regulation in Europe, as well as the presence of lawyers in this new fight for privacy, this time may be different.

    The new initiative is called Global Privacy Control, and it is similar to Do Not Track by telling a website that a visitor does not want their data sold. The hope is that this initiative will help push browsers like Google, Firefox, and Yahoo to create a mechanism that can make sure that all the websites that you visit know not to sell or track your data.

    Currently only two browser developers, Brave and Duck Duck have expressed that they are working towards this goal as well. It is unlikely that the larger browsers will buy in until they are told to as a lot of their income is generated by selling data themselves.

    I think that the Global Privacy Control initiative is great, and I hope that it is more successful than other efforts have been in the past. I feel that the great strides made by the CCPA will help pave the way for this new initiatives success. Internet users deserve to have control over their data and it is only through great initiatives like this that they might truly get that control.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *