In the digital age, many individuals use the Internet and social media to access information and to stay connected online. It has grown to the point that it now plays a part in our everyday lives. By participating on the internet, users face the challenge of managing their online identity, while compromising their online privacy (Taddicken, 2014). This has raised the concern of the user’s privacy and security risks due to what they are willing to sharing online. Companies already use our data is to find patterns in our behavior. The patterns are used to predict consumers’ future behavior and make assumptions on who they are. Companies are using data on past purchases to guess what customers are likely to buy next.
For example, many companies send advertisements based on an individual’s location and history so they can provide personalized services to get users to shop at their company. This may create feelings of people’s privacy being violated. Because individual personal information can be easily stored in various locations online, the risks of information privacy have become more significant in the digital age. We do not really know who is seeing our data or how they are using it. While there have been many ongoing efforts to protect users’ privacy rights, data breach incidents have continued (Sen & Borle, 2015). Data breaches help remind people that they are not in control of their online information.
Individual Response to Privacy/Privacy Paradox
Privacy concern does not excuse for the variety of users’ responses to privacy risk. For example, while repeated data breaches may increase privacy concerns, individuals still underestimate or ignore the risk (Ponemon, 2014). Frequent data breaches may make people feel as though they have no control over their personal information, and pushes them to acknowledge their lack of online privacy. The growing effort of needing to protect their data online increases the feeling in many individuals of having no control. This lack of control, brought on by these data breaches and the difficulty of online privacy control, can reduce an individual’s attention to privacy issues (Acquisti, Friedman, & Telang, 2006).
This has led to what researchers call the “privacy paradox”. It is usually described in relation to digital technologies that facilitate personal information provision and distribution to a networked audience (Acquisti & Gross, 2006). In simpler terms, while individuals claim to be very concerned about their privacy, they still do very little to protect their data. While an individual’s apparent lack of concern would seem to support the idea of a privacy paradox, it seems that people are concerned and knowledgeable about the risks of social privacy violations but had little concrete experience with other types of privacy violations (Barth & Jong, 2017). People can see a difference between personal information they considered to be harmless, and information such as credit card information that could have more of an impact if revealed. It may be that privacy concerns may be driven by experience and that people do not develop attitudes about privacy until they have had some experience with a particular use of personal information (Culnan & Armstrong 1999). For instance, people with high levels of privacy concerns are more likely to boycott companies that threaten their privacy by removing their personal information from the company’s care or complaining to the company (Son & Kim, 2008).
Generation differences have also been brought up in information privacy as younger generations seem to have a lack of privacy. The real difference is that, while young people care about their privacy, they do not understand that how they are using social media and the internet is giving away their privacy. It should be noted that younger users are not the only ones who experience privacy risks by revealing personal information online. Older users who have not grown up with the Internet have shown a similar level of self-disclosure online and should therefore also be informed and educated about online privacy. (Taddicken, 2014).
Future of Information Privacy
Today, almost every part of our lives is public due to third party environments. It could be said that our privacy is dead already. Privacy will become impossible if we are to give our privacy just because of using the internet or social media. We need people to change their mindset on privacy. They should understand the personal costs of compromised personal data and understand that privacy is a bigger issue than what it seems. Many users never try to read or understand the privacy policies before using an app. Even if they read the privacy policies, it sometimes does not provide a whole picture of what is happening with their personal information.
The primary need for standard privacy regulation in America is to assurance that individuals can trust that data about them will be used, stored, and shared in ways that are consistent with their interests and in the circumstances in which it was collected (Kerry, 2019). Personal data should have permanent protection. Creating a standard principle on informational privacy would provide a guide for all businesses and companies. It would make companies have to follow a widely-accepted set of privacy principles and build a foundation for privacy and security practices that evolve with technology. People want to trust and have a reassurance that their data about them will be handled carefully and regularly.