How Digital Technologies are influencing the Privacy of Contemporary Society

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The digital technologies has led to information age which is currently described as an age of informationalization. Collier (42) adds that age can also be describe as an era where all economic activities are generally information based. Information based economic has resulted due to development of new technological aspects in the contemporary society. The new era of technology is mainly characterized with the increasing number of knowledgeable employees and an open world in terms of communication and internationalization (Fouty 289). The digital technologies communication aspects include the global village and Gutenberg galaxy and, internationalization of technology is the trans-border flow of information and data. The paradigm shift in communication and internationalization in the contemporary society has brings new juridical and ethical problems. The problems are mainly connected to issues related to right of accessing information, right to privacy life which may be threatened by the free flow of data and information. Additionally, Spinello (460) adds that the right for the protection of interested intellectual property owners is threaten when their information is exposed online.

Privacy can be described as person condition of life characterized by the exclusion from the publicity or the right of an individual life to be left alone without interference. According to Spinello (460) is that the perception of privacy as led to passing of privacy law in different countries. Spinello (462) gives example of United States as a place where law for protecting the privacy of individuals was first established and implemented. The main reason of establishing and implementing the laws was to protect private of information of individuals. The privacy laws are considered as the natural and fundamental rights which provide basis for individuals’ civil liberties.              Therefore, individuals’ privacy must be protected under any statutory laws in any state or country.

In democratic societies the right to privacy is constitutionally protected. The right of privacy is constitutional expressed in a variety of legislative forms. Spinello adds that in USA the Privacy Act of 1974, Data Protection of England and the Open Democracy Act of 1996 of South Africa are among the legislative laws protecting the right of privacy. Therefore, privacy is a significance right since it is a necessary conditions for forms of rights including personal and freedom. In addition, Smith (399) argues that the legal privacy are sometimes not applicable in some area, particularly in the digital technologies because of its co-evolved and development.  Thus, it is difficult to conceive the nation of privacy and fortification of data as separate entities from the way internet, smartphones, social media and computers of digital technologies have evolved in the past decades.

The research paper will critically determine how digital technologies are influencing the privacy of contemporary society. The number of technology developments that will be discussed in the paper include the impact of internet, street view, smart phones, applications, social networks using examples in the contemporary world.

The Impact of Digital Technology on Contemporary Society Privacy


The internet was originally conceived in 1960s. It was developed in the 1980s as the scientific network in which exchange information. Thus, it was not designed and developed for the purpose of spreading and separating data and information flow. The today World Wide Web was not forecasted as the way of bringing possible misuse of the internet. The social networks site emerged for the community use within people who knew one another in real life situations.

The major issue of concern when it comes to how internet influence the privacy of contemporary society the privacy aspect revolves around the use of cookies. Cookies are defined as a small pieces of data that websites stores on individual user’s computers. The stored cookies enable the personalization of the website as well as the tracking of users’ activities across different websites. For example Smith (399) states that tracking cookies enables advertisements of products that the user of a particular website has recently viewed on different sites. Moreover, Smith (399) also argues that the information gathered is not always clear how the sites use them. His claim shows that digital technologies influence contemporary privacy lives of human since the personal information collected and stored by cookies are used in an unclear way. Spinello (701) adds that different laws requires users to have the consent of cookies have always failed because different users may just simply click away any request consent. It is a fact that most users click the away because they merely find them annoying and disturbing. Also, some features of social network are normally embedded on various sites such as the ‘like’ button. The buttons may permit the social networks website to identify the sites visited by a given user.

The latest development of cloud computing has increased the concerns of privacy among internet users. Previously, the information was meant to be available from the website, user data and software or programs were stored locally to prevent program vendors from getting access to the data and usage statistics. However, in cloud computing development both data and programs are found online which a great threat to privacy to users. It is always a vague of how the user-generated and system-generated data are used. According to Shattucks (310) is that when data are located elsewhere in the globe, it is obvious that difficult to determine which law is protecting such data, and which authorities can use or demand the access of such data. Therefore, the data collected by online services and applications like the search engines and games are of concern in the digital era.

The Street View

It is one of the biggest privacy concerns which is raised by the recent development of digital technologies particularly Google. The street views serve is a development of Google technologies. Street view is a tool that uses car mounted cameras to obtained photos and create panoramic walk-through street images. The tool has been criticized as a research tool for the burglars. McGarry (285) states many people have refused to use the tool since they are not comfortable to use it. They claim that the idea of making their homes, road and driveway available online to be view by every individuals is not comfortable to them.

 McGarry (299) highlight that the critics of the negative impact of Street View on privacy is not only of photograph concerns but soon after its launching it received more criticism.  After the launching of the Street View it emerged that it was not just collecting images but it was hording of private information and data. It collected personal information such as usernames, websites addresses, passwords and electronic mails it has gathered form wireless network which were not protected.  Eventually, McGarry (301) added that Google was forced to delete the data and information collected by the Street View despite Google rejecting the allegations.

Social Networking

The interactive web or social media is where users generate much of content for themselves and it is raising a lot of privacy concerns. For most individuals, social media profiles have rapidly become concise, constantly updated and wide ranging online identities. Hence, thousands of people are continuing to update their profile with their personal information, real time location as well as their work place or place of learning. By sharing such information people are not only sharing their personal data with friends and relatives but also with all kind of web strangers. Rosenberg (475) explained that by posting personal information on social media people are exposing themselves to burglars who are looking for their next potential targets. According to Rosenberg (476) is that people should avoid posting their personal information such as address, place of holiday or where they will be going for holiday as their profiles. He claims that by posting such details it is likely to get unwanted visitor drops at individuals home or offices.

Smith (404) that Emma Roberts find out that public should not be fooled by consumer myths as consumers knows their rights and they have set the record straight. Apparently, it is not only burglars who are snooping on social media network (Smith 404). Goode & Johnson (1100) adds that apart from burglars, advertising companies are also snooping on social media such as Facebook for the get their target and potential consumers directly. The agreement of Goode & Johnson (1100) does not concur with Smith (404). Smith gave example of Emma Roberts one of the consumers he interviewed in his study. Emma responded that consumers should not be fooled by myths that they do not know what to buy and online advertisers’ should stop using their profile details to advertise their products to them.

An obvious example of advertisement that influence social networking users’ privacy are the ones which appears when browsing the website like Facebook. The ads appearing have been selected depending on user personal preferences. The advertisers use individual’s profiles to identify their target clients. It means when an individual posted that he like HP laptop, the advertisers will use the information to make the item appears to use when he/she is browsing.

Another key threats to privacy when using social media networks comes from the third party applications who operates within the social media but are downloaded by external users. Some application can hijack users’ personal data and use it for advertising a products to other users. Goode and Johnson (1112) give notorious example of a man who logged into his Facebook account, and the first adverts that pop was a picture of his wife on a dating site.

Credit Refereeing

The bank managers are currently able to spy on their clients’ credit worthiness through the development of digital technologies known as the credit referencing.  The credit referencing will help lenders to determine whether to give their client credit or no. The credit referencing aspects include utility payments records, estimated house price bills, postcode solvency and mobile phone bills. The events are flagged up to moneylenders through the use of the risk triggers by the credit scoring agencies in different states. The agencies normally use about 250 varied type of trigger including missed mortgage, telephone payment, utility and increase in one personal credit card. The information collected from the digital technologies application are the one to be used to determine credit referencing of a person. Fouty (290) claims that the digital technologies have influenced lives of people since most individuals’ are not credit worth, hence cannot access credit from lenders. Fouty (291) adds that when an individual has lenders’ money, lenders will use the information they gathered to pressure up the person to pay them quickly. Hence, they might slash individuals’ overdraft amount in order to reduce the level of financial risk related to particular client.

Additionally, financial institutions are not only interested on their customers’ details because of the money troubles. They are also keen of their customers’ details because they want know ones financial improvement situation. Froehlich (420): Collier (42) described that most banks use the information to either increase of their client’s salary overdraft or decrease their salary overdraft. Banks makes such decision when they learn that their client’s salary have been increase or reduced, and it might lead to institution changing their client’s credit cards.

Smartphones and Big Data

Froehlich (421) states that over 101 million individuals who are own smartphone in the current world. Statistics indicates more smartphones are being bought yearly compared to PCs. The smartphones permits individuals to connect globally, but it has its different disadvantages to the user. Froehlich (415-420) mentioned that the present past Apple has been under fire when it was revealed that one of its products, particularly iPhone were keeping track of users’ exact location and even saves secret file on the device. The files was then to be transferred to the user’s personal computers when the smartphone is hooked up to it. The data and information that iPhone saves included latitude and longitude of the handset alongside with the timestamp. It means that the accurate map can be plotted on the owner’s travels with their phones.

 Froehlich (421) argued that tracking people movement can make their life to be in risk as the crimes can target them. Hence, digital technologies are defined as the hub for criminal activities since most criminals are using to nub their victims. Additionally, other than have knowledge that IPhone is keeping digital footprint of individuals’ move, the rise of safety also arises. For instance, when phone got stone or the computer it will mean that personal and significant details will be exposed to strangers, who might the details to track the owners of the phone for their personal again or criminal activities. 

Moreover, the Apple’s phone tracker is more of disadvantageous to users especially those who are married and are cheating. Since, the information of the cheating spouse is saved on the device. The devices can saved all his/her movement from a long period of time. Froehlich (415-420) added that such inform saved on the phones can be used by divorce lawyers in making their decision. Contrary, the information saved on the phones can be the reason for the increasing rate of divorces in the world, implying how technology affect human life in the contemporary world. The phone also have special feature known as the keyboard strokes. The keyboard strokes functions was the initially designed to help with the speeding of texting projecting. The feature also means that anything typed by the user in the period between the last three months to twelve months can be retrieved.

The users of various website tend to generates load of data and information when they are online. The load of data are not only about user online usage but also the statistics of his or her behaviour while online. The big data can influence the privacy of individuals has it is used to mine patterns from data which can be used to make decision about a user. It mean that the statistics can influence how people thinks about one person, which may be positive or negative based on the statistics from the big data. Additionally, the information collected from the big data can be used by advertisers to predict user taste, preferences, interests and behaviour.    


In conclusion, it is appropriate to acknowledge that digital technologies have both positive and negative influence on contemporary society, and which are not related to privacy. For instance, the influence of social network websites on relationships and the verifiability elections of the results using the electronics means are positive impact of technological development in the world. Therefore, value and sensitive design approaches on the impact information technology evaluation of should not be focused only on the privacy negative impacts. The report has highlighted various positive impact of digital technologies on privacy as well as the negative effects of technological developments on human life have been presented.

Work Cited

Collier, G. Information privacy. Just how private are the details of individuals in a company's       database? Information Management and Computer Security. (2018), (1): 41-45.

Fouty, K.G. Online patron records and privacy: Service vs. Security. The Journal of             AcademicLibrarianship, (2013), 19 (5): 289-293.

Froehlich, T.J. Re-thinking ethical issues in an online environment. Online Information '94       Proceedings, 6-8 December 2014, edited by D.I. Raitt & B. Jeapes. Oxford: Learned           Information. . (2014), pp. 415-422.

Goode, J & Johnson, M. Putting out the flames: The etiquette and law of e-mail. Online. I           spy. Personal rights in the information age. (2011), 1096-1178

McGarry, K. The Changing Context of Information. An Introductory Analysis. 2nd ed.             London: Journal of Library Association Publishing. . (2014), 9: 282-371.

Rosenberg, R.S. Free speech, pornography, sexual harassment, and electronic networks. The      Information Society. The Journal of IT Impacts, (2013), 9: 471-579.

Shattucks, J. Computer matching is a serious threat to individual rights. In Computers, Ethics and Social Values, edited by D.G. Johnson & H. Nissenbaum. New Jersey: Prentice-         Hall. (2017). pp. 305-311.

Smith, M.M. Online information ethics: Online searching and the searching self. Proceedings    of the 15th National Online Meeting, May 2012, edited by M.E. Williams. Medford     NY: Learned Information. (2012). pp. 399-405.

Spinello, R.A. Ethical Aspects of Information Technology. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc.      Principles of Information Systems. (2015). 456-798

August 21, 2023
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