Privacy breaches in the Digital Age

In today’s society, with the gradual development of technology, people cannot live without the use of media and electronic devices, and life has officially entered the data age. In this context, people’s privacy is also leaked every day. Various digital platforms and online operators are constantly monitoring people’s privacy and collecting information, and then pushing content through our preferences, a sophisticated system of big data algorithms is gradually integrated into daily life. This blog will help you understand what privacy is, why it has become difficult to protect it today, and the reasons for data breaches, and give some examples.

What is Privacy


Privacy is one of the most important concepts of our time and is a right that everyone can have. It is the state of freedom in which an individual or a group of people act in public space without wishing to be observed or interfered with by others. In Solove’s 2008 article, it is stated that privacy is a plurality of different things and that the pursuit of a single essence of privacy can lead to a dead end. There is no overarching concept of privacy, which can include freedom of thought, control over one’s body, solitude in the home, control over personal information, freedom from surveillance, protection of one’s reputation, and protection from search and interrogation (Solove, 2008). This means that a person’s privacy is often judged through a person himself or herself, and it has no clear criteria for judgment. Digital privacy refers to the right to privacy that an individual or group of individuals have over their personal information in a digital environment. The personal privacy used through the use of various digital platforms network devices.

Role and Laws

Privacy can help you erect a boundary line and maintain a comfortable distance from others. If other people ask you for more information than you are comfortable with, it is touching what you consider private and can be promptly rejected to protect your privacy. And to protect this human right, many countries have laws in place. As mentioned in a 2017 online post, all major international and regional human rights instruments spell out the right to privacy, such as the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all of which mention that “1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor or reputation. 2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”. Related content. In all regions of the world, more than 130 countries have constitutional statements on the protection of privacy (Explainer, 2017).

Why is it become hard to protect Privacy

Human Factors

One thing that is without a doubt, ushering in the era of big data has been accompanied by growing privacy concerns. In the Suzor 2019 article, it is mentioned that in the digital age, people are often forced to choose online services in order to connect with others, work and play. These online services often require users to provide personal information, such as name, email address, date of birth and address. This information may be used for advertising purposes or shared with third-party companies. Digital platforms often collect large amounts of personal information through users’ browsing history, search history, and social networking activities. This information includes users’ names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, social media accounts, etc., and also sensitive information such as users’ interests, preferences, and purchase history to further improve their platform services (Suzor, 2019). There are many people who are addicted to social platforms while there are also many people who are forced to devote themselves to online services because they have to work, etc. Society as a whole tends to favor the use of online data, which makes it increasingly difficult to deal with the issue of privacy protection. This is because many services require the submission of information in order to be used.

Platform Factors

Meanwhile, on the other hand, the authority of some of the various digital online platforms and the privacy balance they encounter are mentioned in Flew and Terry 2021’s book as reasons why privacy is increasingly difficult to protect:

1. The market position of digital platforms: the huge market position of digital platforms makes them extremely influential and can have a profound impact on society and economy. This also makes the regulation of digital platforms particularly important.

2. Social impact of digital platforms: Digital platforms not only have an impact on individuals, but also have a profound impact on society, such as on journalism, on politics and elections, and on public space and opinion.

3. Regulatory challenges of digital platforms: The regulation of digital platforms faces various challenges, such as how to balance freedom of expression and cyber security, how to ensure fairness and transparency of platforms, and how to regulate transnational digital platforms.

Digital platforms have a huge impact in today’s society and the way they operate inevitably involves people’s privacy, and the need to operate fairly and protect privacy at the same time is an issue that needs to be continuously explored.

Causes of privacy breaches

A data breach is the unauthorized transfer of data from within an organization to an external destination or recipient. The threat of data leakage basically occurs through the web and email but can also occur through mobile data storage devices such as optical media, USB keys, and laptops (Edu, 2023).

There are so many reasons for privacy breaches, many of which are hidden in people’s daily lives. Almost every day there is a news story describing a breach of information about an organization or an individual. Here are eight of the most likely causes of privacy breaches (Sutcliffe, 2023) : 

  • Weak and Stolen Credentials, a.k.a. Passwords

Weak password settings make it easy for hackers to take advantage of the situation, and countless people have their information stolen every year because of password problems.

  • Back Doors, Application Vulnerabilities

Some of the network settings and prevention systems are not rigorous enough digital platform is also very easy for hackers to steal information.

  • Malware

The number of malware and websites has also been increasing, both directly and indirectly, which can open a data channel for hackers.

  • Social Engineering

Hackers seek help from others who have the right to break social data permissions.

  • Too Many Permissions

Permissions are given to the wrong people, or leaks are made and there is no strict control over who can access what.

  • Insider Threats

Many times, the perpetrators of various cases are likely to be friends with whom you are familiar, and this is also true in the case of Internet information, which is often in the news as a result of information leaks caused by friends who have been secretly photographed.

  • Physical Attacks

Direct access to someone’s home or office and direct use of their computer for data transfer analysis.

  • Improper Configuration, User Error

It is possible that the wrong professional technician was selected, and the information was leaked.

It is clear that the causes of data leakage are very diverse, which is why there are data leakage incidents happening every day and people are worried about privacy.

How to prevent privacy breaches


Some of the advice given by the Australian Government’s Cyber Security Centre on how to go about protecting individuals from private data breaches will be cited next.

  • A strong password protection strategy, including raising employee awareness of the importance of protecting credentials, can greatly reduce the risk of such data breaches.
  • Raising employee awareness of cybersecurity issues and threats, including the cyber risk environment in which the organization is operating, needs to be a priority for all businesses.
  • Do not enter credentials on forms loaded from links sent from email, chat or other means by which communications from unknown parties can be received.
  • Use multi-factor authentication for all users who remotely access business systems when they perform privileged actions or access critical (sensitive/high availability) data repositories.
  • Watch out for friends’ and family members’ accounts that have been compromised and thus leak information.
  • Keep the operating system and software up to date with the latest versions and enable anti-virus systems.

Also, in Nissenbaum and Helen’s book, they discuss some key points for preventing privacy breaches and propose a privacy protection framework called “contextual relevance” that addresses the shortcomings of existing privacy protection approaches by taking into account the context in which data is shared as an important factor to better protect users’ privacy (Helen, 2018).

  • Ensure transparency in data collection and use, i.e., users should know exactly how their data will be used and shared.
  • Implementing strong authentication and access control measures to prevent unauthorized persons from accessing sensitive data.
  • Adopting data minimization principles, collecting and using only the necessary data.
  • Implementing security controls, such as data encryption and secure storage.


Not only that, but as society has become more and more concerned about privacy breaches, many relevant laws have been enacted as a result (Helen, 2018).

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union.
  • Privacy Act and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of the United States.
  • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) of Canada.

There are also many countries that are continuing to improve the big data environment today. This shows the global emphasis on online privacy and security.

Case Study

2018 Facebook (BBC, 2018)

One of the more famous examples of platform information breaches is the 2018 Facebook Cambridge Analytica data breach. The incident exposed the fact that the personal data of 87 million Facebook users was collected and misused.

Specifically, the incident involved an app called “this is your digital life” that collected data from Facebook users, including their profile information, preferences, and friend lists. The app’s creators passed the data to analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which allegedly used the data to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The application was developed by Aleksandr Kogan, a professor of psychology at Cambridge University, and his team. Users can log into the app using Facebook and answer several psychology survey questions. The app’s privacy policy says it will use the data collected to conduct academic research.

However, Kogan resold the data collected to Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm that worked for the Trump campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and allegedly used the data to develop ads and other marketing strategies targeting specific voters. The data may also reportedly have been used to influence the U.K.’s European Union referendum.

After the incident came to light, Facebook was widely condemned and investigated. The company admitted that it should have done a better job with its own user data and has taken a number of measures to protect it. In addition, the incident has sparked a discussion about personal data privacy and the responsibility of Internet companies for data protection (The Guardian, 2018).

Overall, the incident reveals the ease with which third-party applications can access large amounts of personal data of Facebook users and use it for commercial purposes. In addition, the incident has sparked deep thoughts about digital privacy and data protection issues. Social platforms of all kinds still have a long way to go in terms of privacy and security and preventing data breaches.


People’s online privacy protection and data breach prevention is still a global issue in the world today. The example of the Facebook data breach highlights the dangers of data breaches and the widespread nature of the impact. People can maximize the prevention of information breaches by understanding their own privacy judgment and ways to prevent breaches. It is also important to understand the existing laws to protect yourself.

Reference List

Solove, D. J. (2008). Understanding privacy. Retrieved from.

Privacy International. (2017). What is Privacy. Retrieved from

Suzor. (2019). Lawless: The Secret Rules That Govern Our Digital Lives. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from.

Nissenbaum. (2018). Respecting Context to Protect Privacy: Why Meaning Matters. Science and Engineering Ethics24(3), 831–852. Retrieved from.

Sutcliffe Insurance. (n.d.). 8 Most Common Causes of Data Breach. Retrieved from.

Forcepoint. (n.d.). Data Leakage. Retrieved from.

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. (n.d.). Preventing data breaches: Advice from the Australian Cyber Security Centre. Retrieved from.

Cadwalladr, C., & Graham-Harrison, E. (2018). Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach. The Guardian. Retrieved from.

Kelion, L. (2018). Facebook data row: Cambridge Analytica academic a ‘scapegoat’. BBC News. Retrieved from.

Flew. (2021). Regulating platforms. Polity.

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