What is The Future of Internet Privacy?By Simon Patel
Netflix’s star reality show “Too Hot to Handle” opens its seasons pretty much the same, after all the participants are introduced, the hostess is speaking about the series’ virtual assistant Lana: “Well, these soon-to-be-sex-starved singles have no clue that crafty little cone is hidden away gathering data to see how badly behaved they are.” Crafty little con(e) master is nothing less than a quick nod to the Amazon Echo device, which houses the AI assistant Alexa that has a controversial story of its nature.
Though through the humor — it’s a huge evidence of how deeply are lying now roots of privacy issues in our lives and pop culture, that even a sex-centered old-school reality show is scripting satire on secrecy violation (like it’s not the opposite of their definition) in the internet era to the core of its origin. No one really knows what to expect next.
A decade after
Since the first worldwide rage wave on revealed surveillance programs, or the commonly known story about Snowden blowing the whistle, almost 10 years have passed. We can call it the anniversary just in a few weeks. What do we have now? What changed this almost unprecedented event of a disruption of awareness about information gathering?
First and foremost — it’s the masses understanding of how data harvesting works. The amount of those privy to secrets is quite distinguishably different and asking for greater transparency and control over their personal data. We can witness a slight shift toward new policy adoption both on the government level and corporations, following accordingly to the order are ones like GDPR or CCPIA and Apple’s whole new thing about privacy.
Sure enough, businesses that got used to schemes involving massive databases to improve their services, advertising, and products now have to navigate a growing patchwork of privacy regulations. AI is developing at the speed of light, inducing paranoia about our future without privacy among intelligent machines more and more as there are predictions of GPT5 being already self-conscious and need of regulations on that matter, unlike its current version.
The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to draw. To be frank, the current state of internet privacy isn’t so different from what followed the Snowden files, but at least it stays at the light spot having enough attention to slowly and steadily change something. The attitude of users, for example.
What’s the Fuss?
What happened to privacy since the Internet started integrating into daily life? Let’s recap its adventurous journey in a few bullets.
- The Early Internet: In the early days, the Internet was primarily a tool for researchers and academics, and privacy wasn’t a major concern.
- The Dotcom Boom and the Rise of E-commerce: As it grew, so did online businesses popping up here and there. Personal data started being used as a commodity, creating a need for privacy regulations.
- The Social Media Revolution: With the advent of social media platforms, sharing personal information became a norm, leading to further erosion of privacy.
- The Age of Big Data and Surveillance: The explosion of data collection, aggregation, and analysis has led to heightened privacy concerns, fueled by high-profile data breaches and revelations about government surveillance. Big data and the future of privacy definitely have a strong bond since.
A target for cybercriminals and a source of power for corporations and governments, a gold mine to tap. Data is a valuable commodity if not the most one today.
Furthermore, like oil, data has the potential to be immensely valuable and to drive economic growth and technological innovation. A key resource for businesses, especially in sectors like technology, finance, retail, and marketing it can be misused also like oil. The unregulated and unethical use of data can lead to serious problems, such as privacy breaches and exploitation of personal information. Balance is pretty challenging to grasp and achieve.
And one of the most common reasons for the unethical use of information is the compromising of privacy people were uninformed about for years. And, when finally became aware through the shock, were already too hinged on the cycle of needed services in exchange for personal freedom. Prioritization of autonomy to control their identity and personal narrative went into conflict with comfort.
Despite a seemingly more transparent functioning of official data accumulation and new legislation, not everybody is clearly understanding the importance that privacy is caring. Because the consequences of this deal with the devil are still more of shadow ghosts for the majority of internet users. Hidden behind the new as irritating as ads pop-up windows on each website they visit with a long list of cookies they can and can’t opt out of. Not to mention traps like first-party pixels.
But for the future of data privacy, it is important to recognize its value and cherish your own, due to the power it gives to those who have access. The power that can be abused, leading to discrimination, blackmailing, and even thrive of dictatorship. Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, Google’s tracking of users when location history is off or Alexa storing conversations are just a tip of an Iceberg.
As today’s media are hyping the upcoming Christopher Nolans film about Oppenheimer, I can’t help but interconnect the problem the brilliant scientist raised and named himself with our theme
We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multiarmed form and says, ‘Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that one way or another.J. Robert Oppenheimer about witnessing the first Nuclear explosion
Dark Side of the Moon
Prukalpa Sankar raised questions about the use of big data in her TED Talk in 2017, addressing how it can help Germany to win Fifa World Cup and not with healthcare, environment, or crime. Meaning: in most countries, data on these matters was (and still is) collected in an analog format. She also shares her own experience of overcoming problems like this and using Big Data in order to help someone and not overplay.
Tech advancements can threaten safety, no doubt. But surprisingly they can protect it either.
Privacy-focused technologies and business models are emerging too, demonstrating that innovation and privacy can go hand in hand. Encryption, blockchain, and terrifying society minds AI can be used for good.
Let’s start with the most controversial guest — Artificial intelligence. Data-hungry nature is not inherently evil and can be channeled to identify privacy risks in large datasets. Making possible:
- Automated privacy management: for instance, machine learning algorithms can be trained to classify and manage data based on its sensitivity and the level of protection it requires
- Data breach detection: learning what normal system activity looks like, AI can identify suspicious patterns or anomalies that may indicate a data breach
- De-identification and Anonymization: making it difficult or impossible to link data back to individuals. This allows for the use of data in research and analysis without compromising privacy.
- Privacy-Preserving Data Analysis: in this process, “noise” is added to the data, which allows for overall patterns to be observed while preventing the identification of individual data points
- User Privacy Controls: AI could learn a user’s privacy preferences over time and automatically adjust settings to match those preferences instead of manually managing settings
Encryption, for instance, plays a pivotal role in safeguarding data in transit and at rest, making it unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have the correct decryption key. This means that even if data is intercepted or accessed without authorization, it cannot be understood.
Blockchain technology, known for its decentralization, transparency, and immutable nature, also holds the potential for privacy protection. Concepts such as self-sovereign identity, where users have full control over their personal data, are made possible through blockchain.
Cassandra’s Curse: the Future of Privacy
Mentioned multiple times above incident with Snowden files gave birth to even more predictions about the data privacy future. For example, in 2014 Pew Research Center rolled out a report looking deeper through tons of opinions and organizing them into easier-to-embrace categories. Following precise questions, they divided answers into “those who say they expect there will not be a widely accepted privacy infrastructure by 2025” and “those expecting a trusted and reliable privacy arrangement by 2025”. And if some of them today seem to be disposable, others have at least two accurate up-to-date world points:
- Some communities might plan and gain some acceptance for privacy structures, but the constellation of economic and security complexities is getting bigger and harder to manage.
- There is no way the world’s varied cultures, with their different views about privacy, will be able to come to an agreement on how to address civil liberties issues on the global Internet.
- The backlash against the most egregious privacy invasions will bring a new equilibrium between consumers, governments, and businesses—and more-savvy citizens will get better at hiding things they do not want others to see.
Keep in mind it’s not 2025 yet and some of the predictions can become something later, being wrong only in the chosen period of time. What are the most popular theories today, when fantasies about the future have even more diversity and information to implement?
The Global Convergence Scenario: a universal set of data privacy standardsб a common denominator. Yes, this idea is still alive, advocating for the worldwide bare minimum. Who knows, maybe it will become the new Gregorian Calendar of the modern day. This would help simplify compliance for companies and ensure a baseline level of protection for consumers everywhere, that’s definitely vital for nomads and all-merging capitalism.
Fragmented Regulation: Contrary to global convergence, the internet could become more balkanized with different regions implementing their own privacy laws. This would make compliance more complex for global companies and could lead to an uneven level of data protection for consumers. This is a path we’re currently observing to take place with the likes of GDPR, CCPA, and other regional laws.
The Corporate Self-Regulation Scenario: Free-market proponents’ favorite. Corporations are allowed by governments to self-regulate and are provided with flexibility for profits and, maybe, innovation. But do you really believe tech giants won’t abuse this power?
Tech-Driven Privacy: Technologies like encryption and differential privacy could become mainstream, and legislation may evolve to encourage or regulate these technologies. That can lead to companies starting to compete more heavily on privacy features. Again, we can see some tendencies today, as Apple PR campaigns rely harder and harder on their privacy features, leading Google to at least try to keep up with them.
But it would be a bummer to overlook more controversial ones, as they aren’t so crazy when you pay attention to the details.
Data Ownership Revolution: A more radical shift could occur where individuals gain complete control and ownership over their data, deciding who can access it and for what purpose. Blockchain and other decentralized technologies could play a role in this scenario, and legislation would need to adapt to protect this new form of data ownership.
The Government Surveillance and Elimination of Anonymity: The first scenario is supported by what we already witnessed on a more local example after the Twin Towers incident, where the idea of prioritization of security over privacy wins. The second one is more of a modern improv on Zamyatin’s Idea in the novel “We” of mandatory glass walls, where everyone can be seen. Works well with its sibling. That’s where the future of data ownership will be doomed.
The Breakup of Big Tech: There’s a theory suggesting that the future of privacy legislation could involve breaking up big tech companies to reduce their control over personal data. While this has some support, it’s also a controversial idea due to its potential impact on innovation and the tech industry overall.
The Privacy-First Scenario: and yes, it’s pretty down-to-earth to sometimes put security over privacy, because today stalkers like Ricardo Lopez aren’t a sensation, that’s why many don’t feel safe. But isn’t the opposite more investing in security? If new technologies like decentralized web services and stronger encryption become widespread, it’ll make it more difficult for both third parties and hackers to track and collect personal data, giving users more power over deciding the future of data.
The Road Ahead
So is it so predictable? Many tendencies have already shown their faces and continue their grind. However, the future is not set in stone. It is contingent on various factors, including technological advancements, legislative actions, corporate decisions, and individual behaviors.
To sum everything up we better focus on what lies inside ourselves and what we can do for this future. Sure thing, the world is still far from the perfect ruled-by-people system and it can’t be changed exclusively by individuals, but never underestimate the power of resistance. As we navigate this complex and ever-changing landscape, it’s essential to remember that we are not just passive bystanders in the story of internet privacy. Every click, every share, and every digital interaction we engage in plays a part in shaping this narrative.
Internet privacy is not just about protecting individual rights; it’s about shaping the kind of digital society we want to live in. The question we need to ask ourselves is not just how we can protect our privacy, but what kind of internet – and by extension, what kind of world – we want to build. And Sidekick will always be by your side to help build this future.
AI can be used to identify privacy risks in large datasets, preventing breaches and compromise of privacy to please data thirsty analysis. Yes, artificial intelligence is good not only for the optimization of bullshit jobs. It can help in automated privacy management, data breach detection, de-identification and anonymization of data, privacy-preserving data analysis, and user privacy controls.
While the text above does not specify exactly how Sidekick protects internet privacy, it does imply that Sidekick is committed to helping navigate the complex landscape of internet privacy and build a digital future that respects it. Sidekick’s team prioritizes your safety and autonomy, enhancing the secure and private experience with powerful tools created specifically for these needs. Like built-in Adblocker, advanced fingerprinting protection and etc.
Individuals have a role in shaping the future of internet privacy. Every digital interaction plays a part in this narrative. Internet privacy is not just about protecting individual rights; it’s about shaping the kind of digital society we want to live in. That’s why it’s crucial to use options modernity offers — new privacy-oriented services and browsers, encryption and blockchain technology.
Sidekick aims to be at the forefront of privacy-focused browsing. We envision a future where users have full control over their data and where privacy is not just an option, but the default. That’s why, for example, our user’s data is kept only on their devices while using our creation. As we move towards this future, Sidekick is committed to providing the tools, information, and support our users need to protect their privacy online.