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Digital Anonymity is Difficult in Today’s World

The debate on digital anonymity has become a hot topic these days. It is extremely important that you are aware of what you share. Control is in your hands. Each and every activity we perform on the internet is tracked: every email sent or received, every web page visited, every download made, even every conversation […]

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The debate on digital anonymity has become a hot topic these days. It is extremely important that you are aware of what you share. Control is in your hands.

Each and every activity we perform on the internet is tracked: every email sent or received, every web page visited, every download made, even every conversation in a chat.

We must be aware of the fact that even if we are alone in front of the computer browsing the Internet, there is never a total guarantee of privacy and immunity; especially if the knowledge is limited and due attention is not paid to security applications.

Browsing the network implies leaving a trace:

 While visiting a website, the IP address of the computer with which it is accessed (and therefore the geographical location) is provided in addition to information related to the software and the hardware (operating system, browser type, screen dimensions, among other data). If the visited website uses cookies, the information to be obtained from visitors may be even more specific like: the websites they access, the purchases made, the average connection time. All of this can be used to create profiles for advertising. The marketing companies acquire this data to increase their databases objectively.

In recent years, new laws have been created to protect the privacy of people on the internet. In addition, more and more companies are dedicated exclusively to the “Internet reputation defense”, eliminating or hiding information on the web about their client.

Defense of reputation

Companies and people who have the money can hire experts to help them remove their data from the internet.

In fact, an entire industry is currently developing around “reputation defense” with companies leveraging technology to remove information, for a price, and hide bad news from search engines, for example.

One such company, Reputation Defender, founded in 2006, says it has a million clients, including wealthy individuals, professionals and CEOs. It charges around $ 5,500 for its basic package.

This company uses its own software to alter Google search results about its customers, helping to reduce the least favorable stories in the results and promote the most favorable ones.

Privacy protection

Fortunately, in some countries laws have been created to protect privacy.

In the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) includes the “right to be forgotten”, that is, the right of a person to have their personal data erased.

In the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the controlling organization. Last year it received 541 requests to remove the information from search engines, according to data obtained by the BBC.

ICO’s Suzanne Gordon thinks it’s unclear: “The GDPR has strengthened people’s rights to request that an organization delete their personal data if they believe it no longer needs to be processed.”

“However, this right is not absolute and in some cases must be balanced with other competing rights and interests, for example, freedom of expression.” The right to freedom of expression is a fundamental aspect of the democratic tradition. Anonymous writing is considered the cornerstone of an Internet culture that promotes freedom of expression.

In short, privacy and anonymity on the Internet is frankly difficult to achieve and therefore we must be cautious in the way we navigate the sites to which we connect and the information we send. Our data is our identity and it is also in our responsibility to protect it. No law or technology can substitute for common sense.

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