Privacy and Economic Theories

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Privacy entails the seclusion of one’s information from access that is unwarranted access by unknown persons such that the people who can access the data are limited. Private information is meant to be personal to the extent that the only person supposedly meant to know about it in the first place is the person it regards. When it becomes to digital devices like mobile phones, people become reckless and post things that are only supposed to be known by them (Richards 2015, p. 17). Such information can be on an individual’s sexuality, lifestyle, family, education or even their social lives. Privacy is an important tool for each and every individual’s life because it appears to be a right of every citizen according to the United Nation Commission for Human Rights (UNCHR).

Privacy and Economic Theory

The above-mentioned is a theory that tries to shed light on the questions pertaining to privacy and the link it has recently established in accordance with economic motifs. As is visible in the way the community operates and reacts when an individual’s privacy is violated, the latter is held in the highest of esteems. Even though there are people who show a genuine concern for the privacy of those they are in-charge of which is the same case as that of the initial Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook users and subscribers used to trust with their information, there are those who are more than willing to violate the privacy of other human beings for their personal materialistic and economic gains.

A case scenario is the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Scandal that played a pivotal role in showing the general public the extent to which their data can be manipulated for material gains when privacy is violated. Therefore, in as far as majority of the people like Mark Zuckerberg claim that they have genuine concerns about the privacy of those who use Facebook, which in this particular case may be almost the population of the whole world, they would not think twice when there is a chance to violate them for economic benefits. By so saying, even though the common belief is that privacy supersedes all other courses and reasons, the reality of the matter is that economic reasons are often given more thought and first consideration when the privacy of people is the issue in question.

Application of the Theory

            According to UNESCO survey on privacy, it is clearly evident that in the past there existed a limited number in the available technology, therefore, privacy was perceived to be restrictive in accordance with residence and personal properties (Livingstone and Third 2017, p. 46). There was a necessity to protect homes and belongings from being invaded by unknown individuals. Currently, there has been an improvement and development of mass media that has led to the public exposure of individuals’ information as a result of the introduction of new technologies. Technological inventions and innovations are responsible for the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Scandal this year. If at all more concern was directed towards privacy and economic concerns, the scandal would not have occurred in the first place in relation to the privacy and economic theory.   

Privacy, is therefore perceived to be an individual’s right to make decisions on the kind and quantity of information that can be accessed by other people concerning a particular event, lifestyle, education or situation in which they are going through. (Shackelford 2016, p. 445) Using the current statistics from ITU, the number of internet users has adversely increased to about 90% in the digital economy thereby leading to an improvement in the level of communication between different people globally.

The improvement in the communication level is largely attributed to the emergence of various communication and convergence sites such as location-based services for determining new places, IP multimedia systems for internet communications, sessions, Initial Protocol, Internet Protocol television and voice call continuity (Gangadharan 2017, p. 598). These procedures can be used by hackers, trackers and other marketing organizations to trace an individual’s whereabouts, residential areas or lifestyle that can then be used for personal gain for example identity theft or targeted advertisements of products and services.

            There are a number of benefits that can be obtained from various media convergence zones and one of the importance being for marketing purposes. Facebook. Com as an online communication channel can be used for online marketing using the likes and the linked forum such that individuals are able to get in touch with various organizations for instance bakeries, fashion and design, educational institutions, hotels among others (Cole and Fabbrini 2016, p. 226). The like technique is therefore designated to help consumers get more information on a given organization of interest whereas the link technique is useful in creating contact with a given organization so that services can be offered via an online marketing means.

Facebook as an online communication channel can also be used to obtain personal information, for example, an individual's age, location, level of education (Venkatesh 2016, p. 341). This information can then be used to find out birth dates by various marketing institutions, for example, the Amazon is able to predict various gifts that have earlier been liked by an individual after which they are offered a variety of online purchase shops where the suggested goods can be obtained. However, the violation of the user’s right to privacy by using their personal information as it was the case during Trump’s campaign in which people received ads and pictures without their conscience is unethical.

On the same note, the media is also an important tool in connecting people from different regions thereby promoting interaction and communication. LinkedIn. Com is an example of an interaction site for individuals of the same workplace and profession (Cole and Fabbrini 2016, p. 231). The aforementioned site is important in helping organizations advertise for several positions and also allows members to apply for the respective positions. This is clearly evident in the uses and Gratification theory which allows for diversification and communication of members sharing a common interest.

Facebook messenger is also an important media communication tool that can be used to interact with other people especially those on one's friend's list. Through this site, messages, photos, videos, audio recordings and group chats are made possible between different people from different localities and geographical areas in a fast and reliable manner (Bennett and Raab 2017, p. 54). As a result of this, people are able to create and maintain relationships with one another frequently. However, when it gets misused in the manner that it was in the due course of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Scandal, its image gets dented thus discouraging users from not only trusting but also using such social media platforms.  

Due to the emergence of various communication sites in the digital economy, the issue of privacy has emerged to be a threat. The reason being that the people trusted with the management of the platforms prefer the material and economic gains over the privacy of the users and subscribers. This article provides a succinct examination of the numerous ways in which people opt for economic benefits over privacy of their users by applying the privacy and economic theory.  Also, it is focused on determining the impacts of technology on the privacy of individual’s information and the possible procedures and techniques that can be put into practice to ensure that privacy is safeguarded (Richards and Hartzog 2015, p. 431). The use of technology has posed a greater threat in the privacy of an individual information due to occurrence of various services for example electronic monitoring services, data banking services and file merging services that have been used to obtain individual information without their consent and using the already gathered information for personal gain (Acquisti et al. 2015, p. 512). There are various instances in which privacy of information can be violated and they include the following

Technology is useful in the collection, storing, retrieving and disseminating information from different people and making it accessible to other people depending on the level of interest. As a result, if this, it is quite easy to access an individual’s personal information which can thereby be used for other purposes, for example, the information obtained can be manipulated or altered by the use of electronic means so that it is able to suit the user's interest. 

Montgomery et al., (2017, p. 90) apparently indicates how the use of technology has negatively impacted the privacy of an individual’s privacy. Milosevic et al., (2017, p. 104) states how the electronic monitoring of individuals in the workplaces affects their privacy because it invokes fear in doing tasks and responsibilities in a given area of work, as a result of the fear of being watched in each and every step that an employee takes. Electronic monitoring also encourages exposure of various email communications between employees in a given workplace.

By so doing, the email messages can be accessed by the employer in order to find out whether the infrastructure available at the working station is used for private reasons or to carry out tasks within the organization. As a result of this, an employee's personal information is normally made available to a given individual for personal benefit. Fabbrini (2015, p. 65) provides a succinct explanation pertaining to the effect of data banking which is usually concerned with the integration of various databases containing personal information of a variety of individuals to a central database.

Facebook as a connection channel can be used to explain the risks that can result from the frequent use of social network services due to some of the programmes that it has, for example, the mutual friends and the people you may know programmes (Baym 2015, p. 71). Through this, other unknown persons can be able to connect with other people especially those that are related to you or those that are existing on your friend's list. As a result, they are able to obtain information which can later be used for personal gain.

Trackers and hackers can also establish relationships with various friends from ones Facebook friend’s list and develop scam ways that can be used to gain access to personal information without their knowledge on the same. The information can also be used to trace where an individual stays which will then be of great benefit to the respective unknown person. This is normally a violation in an individual's privacy because on many occasions, they are usually unaware of this practice of integrating their personal information into a central database and whether the data is accurate (Donohue 2016, p. 47). The individual is also not made aware of the intended purpose of the already merged information and the kind of benefit that the newly constructed database is going to achieve.

Weber (2015, p. 239) vividly explains the effect of merging of files by various wholesales and retails companies on customers’ privacy. Through this act, personal information belonging to frequent customers is collected without their consent and used subsequently by marketing companies to personally reach them and make them aware of their products. Another threat to privacy is usually raised by the emergence of hacking and cracking systems which have made it easier for other unknown sources to obtain personal details of individuals without their knowledge and using the obtained information for personal gain (Schreiber 2016, p. 176).

A survey conducted by Equifax on the threat of technology to individuals privacy, reveals that personal information was made available for various purposes as reported by 79% of the respondent. As a result of this, there are various effects imposed on the individuals and society as a whole (Hall and McGraw 2014, p. 220). There is a loss of self-confidence and dignity especially in the case of dissemination of an individual's medical reports and details without informing those particular patients. These invoke fear and insecurity among individuals because of the exposure of their private details to the society especially when they find out that this act has taken place without their permission or consent and as a result making them vulnerable to other problems.

There have been ample controversies pertaining to the establishment of the credit bureau and info-prenuer companies that mainly focuses on the processing and dissemination of personal information. These companies have brought up a number of methods that can be used to collect data from various sources without informing respective people on this act thereby impacting negatively in the personal lives of people in the community as a result of using the obtained information for commercial purposes (Cecere et al. 2015, p. 277).

The information present at the credit bureau database can also be manipulated and used to protect criminals because of the existing technology that has been made available. Owing to the technical know-how of the manner in the equipment involved in the same have been modified, it difficult to trace any individual who has been engaged in an offense by hiding all the relevant information that can be used to be able to find out their whereabouts (Montgomery et al. 2017, p. 103). As a result of the adverse threats and effects of privacy that has been imposed by technology, there is need to ensure that personal information is protected.

There are several procedures and techniques that have evolved to help individuals safeguard their personal information (Gangadharan 2017, p. 597). The use of passwords is an example of techniques that can be used to protect the privacy of individuals in a variety of gadgets such as computers, smartphones, and tablets that contains Private information on them. Passwords are important in the prevention of identity theft issues because in case of theft another person is not able to gain access to one’s own information (Cole and Fabbrini 2016, p. 234).

There are important tools, for instance, strong passwords installed in online accounts because they need passwords to set up. This is normally important to identify the quality of the user password in order to make it safe. Individuals are normally advised to avoid using the same password for different sites because once one is hacked it is easier to access information from different sites to which the same password has been used (Bennett and Raab 2017, p. 36). There is a two-factor authentication tool that plays an important role on protecting a given site even if another unknown person gains access over password because of the already made answers that are usually stored in the password manager.

Keeping the computer virus free is also another method of protecting one's privacy. When a computer or any other gadget with important personal details is infected by a malware, it is easier for other sources to obtain one’s personal information. The best antivirus for safeguarding privacy is Kaspersky as it is able to protect windows and make sure that the gadget's operating system is always up to date (Livingstone and Third 2017, p. 84). Making sure that the browsing sites are hidden is also another way of safeguarding privacy as it provides protection against hackers and other online marketers.

There are various procedures that can help prevent trackers from getting to know one's locality, for example, the private browsing technique's that automatically deletes cookies and java scripts that are important tools used in tracking individual's whereabouts. Making sure that only secure Wi-Fi connections are used for browsing purposes. It is very risky to use open or public Wi-Fi services to disseminate private information (Ahmed and Chander 2015, p. 51). Public services can pose a major threat to a person’s privacy as it can be a way of obtaining important and relevant information.

Concisely, if the information in question is being transmitted to a third party via that respective Wi-Fi service especially by hackers and other marketing institutions (Richards and Hartzog 2015, p. 431). A virtual private network can be used to protect the personal information which has been shared with someone else. The only software that is trusted should be used for browsing purposes or for access to accounts that have personal information on them. Installation of applications should be keenly carried out to make sure that the available apps are from trusted sources.


Therefore, it can be argued that privacy is a threat in the digital economy as a result of the emergence of technology that has made it easier for online marketing organizations and other unknown persons for instance hackers and trackers to gain access to individual information. Theoretically, the constant selection of economic benefits over the privacy of clients is an outright indication that integrity is always at stake (Fabbrini 2015, p. 65). Some of the benefits may be for identity theft purposes, targeted advertisements of products or services, merging of data for commercial purposes or any other personal gain which is the same case as in the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Scandal. It is therefore important to safeguard one's privacy using some of the techniques such as the use of passwords, antiviruses, virtual private networks and being aware of scammers.


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January 19, 2024


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