The age of Internet Privacy

We often scroll down the user agreement list and press accept without reading a single word on the document. Although many people are concerned for their privacy, many don’t take precautions to protect it.

The Connect IT conference tried to tackle the issue of online privacy at the Ted Rogers School of Management on March 29.

Around 60 business students gathered to listen and network with industry professionals about online shadows. The conference was brought back after being put on hold for four years.

Some of the featured speakers were Diane Francis, an editor with the National Post, Hamza Khan, a digital marketing strategist, and Robert Beggs, the CEO of Digital Defence an information security service that focuses on preventing security breaches.

Online shadows are more than what people put up the Internet. “There’s more written about you online than you write yourself,” Beggs said. Even when geographic locators on phones are turned off, about 25 per cent of the time, information is sent, he said.

Companies track information on it users for marketing purposes, which at times can cost the consumers more money, he added.

“If you go on airline company’s website and record the prices and try again the next day the prices will be higher. If you try again, but this time deleting you cookies first, the prices will be cheaper,” Beggs said.

But this isn’t a coincidence. By deleting your cookies it will appear to the company that you are a first time buyer, Begg explains.

Khan tied in a similar point in his talk. “If the product is free that means you’re the product,” he said. In return for its service, Snapchats find outs every personal detail about you. He said almost everything online is tailored towards you from your Netflix account to your Googles searches. If you are logged into your Gmail account your search results and ads on the site will differ.

Khan’s point was not meant to scare people into not using the Internet, but to make users more aware. “Yes, it is possible to live in a world without social media, we have been fine without it. But, people who choose not to use social media will be at a disadvantage,” Khan said.

Francis’ keynote speech talked about the lack of curation on the Internet, “the minute you join the online world you have to be aware.” She said that we are outsourcing our memories to the Internet and not thinking of the repercussions. Nothing online is erasable and sometimes it’s illegal to erase information she said.

“There’s nowhere to hide, so don’t have anything to hide,” Francis said.