We often need to provide personal information for account registration and shopping on social media. At the same time, our personal information may be stolen by unscrupulous businesses and misused illegally. Therefore, privacy and digital rights in the digital world have become crucial. This paper will explain and analyze how we should understand privacy and digital rights in today’s online environment and find appropriate solutions to the problems and conflicts related to privacy and digital rights that arise in the governance of internet culture.
What are Privacy and Digital Rights
Privacy is a fundamental human right that refers to the right to keep the secrets of one’s private life from being known by others (OAIC, 2023). It is a fundamental human right and freedom that should be respected and protected. This means we have the right to defend our actions from interference and infringement by others. Digital rights refer to the rights and freedoms that individuals enjoy in the digital world, including free speech, privacy protection, access to information, intellectual property protection, etc. With the popularity of the Internet, digital rights have become an extension of human rights and one of the most concerning and controversial topics in the Internet era.
Digital rights are an extension of human rights in the Internet age
In the digital world, people can freely express their ideas and opinions through the Internet, an extension of freedom of expression. Information dissemination in the digital world is also faster and more convenient, making it easier for people to access and share knowledge. However, this also brings problems like information overload and fake news, so digital rights protect free access to information and authenticity. With the development of digital technology, people’s personal information is more widely collected and used, which makes privacy protection in digital rights particularly important. Digital rights also include intellectual property protection, i.e., copyright protection of digital content to encourage creativity and innovation. The development of digital technology has essentially changed the way fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and access to information are exercised, and privacy is violated, leading to the need for laws and regulations to adapt to this new era to ensure that digital citizens live in a safe and transparent online environment. Technological advances in the digital age are continuous, but each requires an adapted regulatory scheme (Digital Rights, Essential in the Internet Age, n.d.). Digital rights are the fundamental rights and freedoms that people enjoy, and they are essential for human rights protection and social development in the Internet Age.
Do users actively share personal information with technology companies？
Many Americans would be willing to share personal information with technology companies or allow surveillance in exchange for gaining some perceived value in a variety of situations, according to a new study conducted by the Pew Research Center, based on a survey of 461 U.S. adults and nine online focus groups of 80 people (Rainie & Duggan, 2016). Many consumers may trade between providing personal information and enjoying a convenience or service. For example, when suggesting a new account on social media, we are often required to provide a username, birthday, email, and other personal information. However, this information is used to create a profile and facilitate interactions with family and friends. Some social media applications ask users to consent to the application’s access to their phone’s address book when signing up or setting up and scanning their contacts to find matches with users already registered on the application. The purpose of this feature is to make it easier for users to find friends and make connections. In this case, we may give up some privacy to gain the convenience and functionality of social media platforms; when we make purchases online, shopping sites often require consumers to provide their names, shipping addresses, credit card information, and other personal information. Also, many shopping sites will entice consumers to subscribe to their services through discounts, coupons, or free trials. These services include membership programs, coupons, email newsletters, personalized recommendations, and promotions. Before subscribing, many online retailers ask consumers to complete a registration form to better understand their interests and shopping preferences. When we subscribe to these services, the shopping site will begin sending us periodic updates, promotional information, and coupons, among other things. They may use consumers’ personal information to customize this content and provide more targeted marketing strategies. In addition, they may use browsing and purchase history to recommend relevant goods and services. This suggests that users may be willing to give up some privacy to have a better service or product experience. However, this does not mean that all users will do so, and users typically make trade-offs between privacy and convenience.
Everyone has their privacy, digital rights, and different expectations of convenience and services. As a result, users will consider their specific circumstances and needs when deciding between privacy and comfort. Some users may be more concerned about personal privacy and security and reluctant to share too much personal information. They may be more careful in choosing which information and services are worth giving up some privacy and which are not.
On the other hand, some users may be more focused on convenience and experience and are willing to provide more personal information. They may be more interested in companies that can offer more personalized and customized services. According to one survey, about 47% of adults said they would be willing to accept a deal that provides additional benefits in exchange for the store sharing their shopping habits with a third-party company. However, 32% said they would not get this, and another 20% said they would decide whether to accept such a deal on a case-by-case basis (Rainie & Duggan, 2016). While there are many benefits to be gained from sharing personal information in any situation, users should be mindful of their privacy and security, carefully consider each company’s reasons for requesting personal data to be transferred, and make decisions based on their needs and circumstances. Also, companies should comply with privacy protection regulations and transparently disclose to users how their personal information is used and protected.
Constantly consumed trust
The personal data of more than 500 million Facebook users was leaked in April 2021, which may include Facebook founder Zuckerberg’s phone number. According to Business Insider, a low-level hacking forum exposed the personal information of more than 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries on the 3rd, and the leaked data included Facebook IDs, users’ full names, locations, birthdays, personal profiles, and email addresses (Holmes, 2021). This is not the first time Facebook has had a user information breach. Back in 2018, Facebook abused its users’ trust by selling user data to a third-party company, Cambridge Analytica, causing the most significant privacy scandal in the social network’s history, and this third-party company used the data for political ads in the 2016 U.S. election, which was a severe violation of Facebook’s terms of service. Technology companies wield enormous power while assuming a wholly inadequate amount of responsibility. Facebook has quickly attracted 2.3 billion users since its inception in 2004, making it the leader among many technology companies (Sun, 2022, pp. 104-120). The social media platform built their company with absolute power and collected consumer information in an almost opaque manner. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigated the situation and fined Facebook $5 billion. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was created internationally to solve this problem and became obligatory in May 2018. (GDPR, 2018).
As an important place for information dissemination and exchange, Facebook should bear the corresponding responsibility. This includes establishing a sound management system and technical means to protect users’ personal information and privacy and cracking down on harmful information and illegal acts. Although relatively appropriate first-aid measures have been taken, further strengthening user data protection is still needed. This issue concerns personal privacy, digital rights, public security, and social stability. Technology companies misuse data and act irresponsibly, posing risks and threats to user privacy. In particular, the disclosure of personal data by tech companies to third parties or the use of private data for targeted advertising without users’ knowledge or consent may violate users’ privacy and digital rights, which needs to be addressed (Sun, 2022, pp. 104-120). Therefore, technology companies need to take more social responsibility and obligation to strengthen the protection of data privacy and security protection and comply with relevant laws, regulations, and ethical standards. Although technology companies have the responsibility and obligation to strengthen the protection of data privacy and security, users should also enhance the safety and control of personal information and pay attention to the scope of disclosure and sharing of personal information to protect their privacy and digital rights. User’s personal information and digital footprints may be widely collected, used, and shared. If they ignore protection, they will face data leakage, identity theft, and spam. Therefore, users need to learn how to use digital technologies while protecting their privacy and digital rights, for example, through privacy settings, using secure passwords, and not sharing personal information freely. Only through the joint efforts of users and technology companies can we build a credible, safe, and fair digital environment.
It’s time to change to protect the core of consumers’ human rights
With the evolving use of technology, the importance of protecting consumers’ privacy and digital rights has come to the fore. More and more consumers are also becoming aware that companies are abusing their confidentiality and that consumers are treating their data as carefully as they would like to be treated (Anant et al., 2020). According to a McKinsey survey of 1,000 North American consumers in 2020, consumers have become increasingly concerned about whom they share their information with. About two-thirds of U.S. Internet users believe it is essential that only authorized people have access to their email content and that the privacy of their email communication and identities is protected (Anant et al., 2020).
With the increasing number of breaches and consumer demand for privacy and data control, the government has taken new regulatory measures. Regulations such as The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act, and the California Consumer Privacy Act have all sought to provide more comprehensive protections for consumer privacy in the digital age by updating existing or introducing new information privacy regulations (Gasser, 2021, pp. 195-95). The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act, and the California Consumer Privacy Act have all attempted to provide more comprehensive protection of consumer privacy in the digital age by updating existing or introducing new information privacy regulations (Gasser, 2021, pp. 195-211). At the same time, these breaches have led to the emergence of interception tools that can help people protect their private data. 1/10 Internet users worldwide have software installed on their systems to block nuisance ads effectively (Anant et al., 2020).
Companies should upgrade their data management procedures and develop transparent, standard processes for managing and transmitting data. Doing so will help companies comply with relevant regulations, thereby restoring consumer trust and, in turn, creating a healthier and more trustworthy environment. In addition, the standardization and clarity of these processes can also increase the efficiency of data collaboration and share within the company and with third-party companies, thereby increasing the company’s competitiveness and ability to innovate. Collaboration with third-party companies must remain completely transparent, and consumers must know exactly how their personal information is used and shared. Doing so helps build trust and loyalty and ensures companies comply with relevant privacy regulations and standards. It also helps consumers decide whether to share their information with companies and third-party companies. Also, upgrading data management procedures helps companies better protect consumers’ privacy and digital rights, reduce the risk of data breaches and misuse, and gain broader trust and loyalty. Therefore, having clear, standard data management procedures is critical to a company’s long-term growth.
Internet cultural administration must balance all party’s rights and interests to guarantee the privacy and digital rights. While protecting the privacy and digital rights, there is also a need to ensure the interests of information security, network governance, and economic development. Solid laws, regulations, and moral standards must be established. Technical instruments and management procedures must be strengthened to secure individual privacy and digital rights. At the same time, it is necessary to guide and promote the exchange and integration of diverse cultures and values and jointly build an open, fair, transparent, and orderly cyberspace so that all people can enjoy the convenience of digital technology in a safe environment. This requires the joint efforts of all parties, including governments, businesses, civil society, and individuals. Through collaborative efforts, privacy and digital rights can be protected while ensuring the balance and development of cyber security.