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Privacy Policies: Are They Truly Protecting Our Privacy?

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With the advent of new technologies and various social media platforms, websites are expected to protect users’ information.

In order to do so, many platforms have created privacy policies that all users must agree to in order to use the website.

These agreements are often very lengthy and contain legal diction that the average person would not necessarily understand.

Ultimately, people simply agree without actually reading the document.

It is like signing a contract without reading it. Anything can be included in these agreements, and oftentimes, they share more information than people would like.

Senior Judy Park said, “Companies should not be violating my privacy in any way. With advancing modern technology, companies should put more effort in protecting our privacy. We should be in charge of our information, and have 100 percent control over it.”

Many websites and applications can access your location even if they are not currently opened on your phone or desktop.

Additionally, cookies have become a way for different applications to monitor users’ web browsing.

According to the PCMag.com, cookies are “a small text file (up to 4KB) created by a website that is stored in the user’s computer either temporarily for that session only or permanently on the hard disk (persistent cookie).”

Ever been online shopping and then all of a sudden all the internet ads you see are for that product? That is because of cookies.

These track users’ preferences, including browsing tendencies, and can be created by open websites or third parties.

Third‐party trackers are websites other than the one currently being used such as an unknown web advertiser.

PCMag.com wrote that, “The purpose of such cookies is usually to track your surfing habits, which is why third-party cookies are considered an invasion of privacy and riskier than first-party cookies.”

Senior Denali Bunker is somewhat apprehensive about how websites are using her information.

She said, “It makes me feel like I’m being tracked or watched which makes me uneasy. Big Brother is always watching.”

For companies like Nordstrom Rack, by downloading their app, going into their stores or using their website, users agree to letting cookies track them.

Their privacy policy states, “We and third parties we work with may collect information from the computer, tablet, phone or other device.”

They can also collect information on “the websites you visit before coming and after leaving our website.”

Not only are clothes stores tracking all of this information on their customers, almost all other websites and applications are using similar tactics to collect information on their users.

Bunker said, “I think, on some level, apps having the ability to track what I do on their interface is fairly harmless. But when it comes to things like Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram where I have my personal information stored (phone number, email and birthday), I’m not sure how I feel about the people running these apps having all my information.”

The ethics behind privacy policies are often underrated and not discussed. However, the rights of users are just as important as those of the companies.

In the age of technology, more and more information is being shared and collected. In order to be a part of the internet community, maybe users have to give up some of their privacy.

Bunker said, “I definitely think that as technology advances and social networks online advance, there is a certain amount of privacy that we have to give up. We make a decision when we sign up for apps like Twitter to put some or more of ourselves out there than we would without our phones.”

In an article for the New York Times, Brian X. Chen wrote, “Giving up some data has become part of the trade-off of receiving compelling, personalized services. But that doesn’t mean you have to be caught by surprise.”

Senior Ally Carney thinks that some of this information can be beneficial to users and their companies.

She said, “It can be helpful to the company. It is a breach of privacy, but it can then be used to help the consumer. The way I see it, no harm no foul.”

 

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Privacy Policies: Are They Truly Protecting Our Privacy?