How has the Internet Changed the Meaning of Privacy?

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Many people have developed an addiction to technology. Indeed, the internet has become one of the most useful and enduring technology resources of the modern century, with many individuals, regardless of age or technical ability, using it on a regular basis (Maaß 235). Many people use sensitive information when surfing the internet, which they say disappears as they log out. On the opposite, the internet functions as a pocket that holds all that a person accesses when using an online portal. While the internet has had a tremendously positive effect on culture, it has also introduced new challenges to personal privacy and protection. Social media has fast developed, allowing people to share lots of personal information. Do people care about the privacy and safety of such information? While there is common ground that internet has indeed changed the meaning of privacy, a closer examination of the critical factors about internet use and privacy prove that the internet has not killed privacy, though it has made a change forever.

Impact of Technology

The use of technology has slowly become a necessity rather than an option as many people become addicted. Technology on its part is creating significant automation of tasks thus lowering the use of human resources and time aspects. With the excitement it brings, a majority of people believe that the direction that technology has taken is the best for the current generation and era (Maaß 243). However, from an in-depth analysis, it is evident that while technology through the use of internet has enhanced communication between different individuals, there is equally a concern on the element of privacy, especially of the information shared online either willingly or unconsciously, and its safety.

The Role of Social Media

One of the most significant events attributed to technological growth and the use of the internet is that of social media. In today’s hyper-connected world, privacy is said to be dead, an observation attributed to the fact that some people believe privacy has become irrelevant and unattainable (Maaß 241). Furthermore, some people think that not much can be done in ensuring that it is achieved, most especially in the occurrence that much of personal information is posted and available online. There are numerous instances in which the information that is available online is either retained or disseminated to third parties, a significant concern for privacy. Ideally, it is true that the sharing of information online has increased immensely in the recent past, and people still care about privacy, contrary to the perception that it has died (Earp and Young 23).

Privacy in the Online World

The internet is indeed one area in which informational privacy and protection of personal information have become crucial. While good numbers of the users want to partake of the offerings of the internet and equally participate in one of the most critical spheres, privacy has then focused more towards either information shared online or that generated from the internet. Latest trends in the use of social media have started pointing to the fact that a majority of individuals are equally becoming more cautious with the security of the information available in the online platforms as internet use increases (Earp and Young 23).

Changing Dynamics of Privacy

Evidently, privacy has changed depending on the changing circumstances, with an in-depth focus now being an individual’s control of their data. To an extent, those advocating for privacy say that information shared on the internet plays a significant role in jeopardizing personal safety, a concern that is indeed genuine, because such information, especially those on online social networks, is subject to social engineering attacks. The issue of privacy has equally been in controversy with security with arguments trying to make a justification of which is superior to the other. The major concern has been on the 'nothing to hide' argument. Despite the current security forces becoming professionals they still seek to trade the element privacy for security, especially when security extends beyond an individual to include other people as in the case of national security regardless of the element of right to individual privacy (Solove 4).

Concerns for Parents

With the trends currently being experienced, parents of today's teens are increasingly becoming a worried lot concerning the management of their children's online presence. From the previous research about privacy concerns online, the findings revealed that only 9% of the teens get concerned about third-party access to their data on Facebook, while up to 80% of the parents had concerns about such access (Kaufman 73). There is indeed an influx of online information sharing among the young people through social media in the recent than before with much thought of the privacy and security concerns. Despite such findings, there still exists some little faith for the parents to hang on as the teens equally have specific means of staying vigilant while online. The teens were found to have had the highest number of unfriending and blocking of other users as a means of limiting them from sharing information with the unintended audience while online (Feno 19).

Evolving Notions of Online Privacy

One aspect that is slowly becoming known to many about online privacy and security is that it is gradually becoming a collective phenomenon than individual based as many have thought about it. Specific privacy issues are never addressed by the simple measure of adjusting user settings. Online privacy has evolved from the information individuals disclose about themselves to what others also say or disclose about one another (Feno 21). One obvious thing is that online privacy will keep changes as days progress, most especially with the creation of new technologies, maturing of the already existing ones and a further evolution of user perception about privacy (Kaufman 75). With such an approach, it is evident that while essential dynamics about privacy are continually emerging and changing, it remains alive only that change is immense.

The Nothing-to-Hide Argument

Despite the fact that privacy is a growing concern for many, the nothing-to-hide argument is equally making the base as a response to information gathering and retaining. Such an argument limits the fundamentals of privacy in that when one has nothing to hide, then privacy becomes the least concern. What most of such arguments fail to understand is that privacy is no longer about oneself, instead what others take or use such information for, is equally important in determining privacy and security of one's data online (Earp and Young 27). Soon, information privacy, especially, which is dispatched online will be a concern for those in the legal profession. And that is not a surprise. With such aspects, a center for computation and society has been established as a means of addressing the security and privacy concerns based on the fact that most of the solutions involved are also technological. The center, therefore, focuses on the development of ideas and technologies in addressing some of the society's vexing problems as an integrative approach (Maaß 246).


In conclusion, the Internet has genuinely changed the meaning of privacy and in-depth analysis of its use, having revealed that it has not killed the latter, though it has made a change forever. The more technology develops, the more concerns emerge, and the more online users become cautious of their online activities. As such, it is evident that while privacy and security of people's online presence remain of great concern, the two are not dead, only that they are undergoing changes that will stay forever.

Works Cited

Anton, Earp, and Young, John. How internet users' privacy concerns have evolved since 2002. IEEE Security & Privacy Magazine, 8(1), 2010 pp.21-27.

Feno Heriniaina. “A Privacy Threat for Internet Users in Internet-censoring Countries.” Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Information Systems Security and Privacy, 2016

Kaufman, Lori M. "How Private Is The Internet?." IEEE Security & Privacy Magazine, vol 9, no. 1, 2011, pp. 73-75. 

Maaß, Wiebke. “The Elderly and the Internet: How Senior Citizens Deal with Online Privacy.” Privacy Online, 2011, pp. 235–249.

Solove, Daniel J (‘Nothing To Hide: The False Tradeoff Between Privacy and Security: Yale University Press 2013)

December 15, 2022
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