The internet and artificial intelligence have heavily engaged in people’s life, and the social media platforms benefit the communication across distance. People need their personal details to access the applications or websites on the internet. They also share their lives on the social media platforms and communicate with their friends through the applications, such as Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, and WhatsApp. With the increasing quantity of users and the growing interests on information communication technology (ICT), the protection of users’ data becomes crucial to ensure the personal privacy safety on the internet.
What is Privacy?
Privacy is the right to avoid freedom from intrusion and obstruction, and it is the basic from being discriminated. It prevents people from interference and offers a safe environment for them to use their own information. However, different understandings on privacy vary from different countries’ constitutions because of diverse cultural backgrounds, history, and philosophical effects (Goggin, 2023). The way of protecting people’s privacy will be various from countries and districts. Judge Cooley said that privacy is the authority “to be alone”, nowadays inventions and technologies have interrupted people’s personal life, which makes people begin to pay attention on their information privacy protection.
Privacy is the authority “to be alone”.– Judge Cooley
Why Privacy Matters?
The countless surveillance cameras and digital devices have flooded with human’s daily activities. News industry and instantaneous photos continuously interrupt the domain space of personal life. The gossip news reporters always stalk the celebrities and sneakily take photographs of their personal life without their permissions, then post the images on the newspapers or websites with a dramatic title to draw people’s eyes. Although the celebrities’ nature of work chooses to expose most of their life under the flashlights and the public, they still have private space that should not be invaded in. The fame does not equal to lose the right of privacy, there are many celebrities whose private life does not obstruct by the media. For example, personal life of billionaire Melinda Gates and mega-philanthropist is not often reported (Benyamin, 2021), which is the proof of privacy safety for the celebrities, and the others should be treated in the same way.
Every human being needs privacy. Privacy allows people to reflect and learn from their inner activity with the freedom of interference. It also relaxes the stress from the external and internal environments. People fully surround by digital technologies and various social media applications; the world of cyber surveillance brings the issue of privacy protection to an essential stage. In 2018, The Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting and strategic communication firm, obtained the personal data of a maximum of 87 million Facebook users (TechRepublic Staff in Security, 2020). The company can access Facebook users’ identifiable information due to a variety of circumstances. This puts forward the issue that Facebook lacks inadequate defenses against companies collecting user data, barely any developer supervision by Facebook, creator misuse in the Facebook application programming interface (API), and users’ agreement on excessively wide user terms and conditions.
What are the Privacy Conflicts between the Media Platforms and Users?
“Given its importance, we need to make sure the terms reflect the principles and values of the people using the service.”– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
Based on reality, every social media platform belongs to its own company with the power to control its operation. The working process of digital media is hidden and untransparent. The platforms ideally stand on the neutral side between the creators and the users that they control and manipulate the networks. They want to be seen as a welcoming space for people to share and post their ideas and a communication tool; therefore, the social media platforms need to secretly process their procedure of moderation and handling. However, users will consider that the platforms or their owners are dishonest with the operation of the platforms. Users want the freedom to know and feel they can control their private data information. Yet, the companies of the platforms require a majority part of control on the data to acquire benefits from the networks.
What are Human Rights and Privacy on the Internet?
‘Human rights’ regard as the intrinsic worth of every individual, no matter of where they come from, the cultural background, thoughts, or religious beliefs. The rights should be founded on respect for mutual human decency, dignity, equality, and fairness. Rights connect with the forming of the community, almost everything can be relevant with human rights, like accommodation, privacy, safety, sanitation and so on. Being respectful for human rights is the milestone to build a strong and inclusive community.
Before the emergence and popularity of digital social media platforms, the media gradually becomes important after the end of the Second World War, it plays a vital role in the large-scale distribution and convincing the public (Karppinen, 2017). The media is tool allowing the public to acknowledge what the world is happening and keep up with the current news. People take the advantages of faster spread of news when the rise of information and communication technology (ICT). Social media platforms can also be the medium of democracy, which people like using them for the promotion and call for movements. Human rights enjoy a long-term evolution learning from diverse and complex politics and histories. Since the digital platforms start to advertise themselves as the private place for users to share their stories, the issue of right of privacy becomes crucial and thought-provoking. People are concerned about the authority to manage and control their own identifiable data, such as portrait rights, information privacy, and freedom of religion.
The International Bill of Rights (UDHR, Art. 12; ICCPR, Art. 17) and regional agreements on human rights established the right to privacy as a human right (Buhmann & Olivera, 2020). The European Court of Human Rights has committed that photographs recording of other people’s private life should be protected by the law. Posting and sharing the photos of someone without permission or notifying can result in privacy infringements. For instance, a series of images were posted online but accidently revealed a teenager’s body at a 2006 vehicle accident. These series of photos become the morbid interest. Consequently, the girl’s family experienced mental distress as a result of the images being public without informing (Bennett, 2010, as cited in Buhmann & Olivera, 2020). The example illustrates the ICT companies should set up effective rules and terms to constraint the private photos posted on social media platforms on the internet. Social media should build a well-structured identifying system to clarity and select the images that contain risks and uncomfortable contents, to prevent harmful results and safeguard human rights in advance.
How to Protect Online Personal Information?
There are concerns about potential detrimental impacts on the right of privacy infringements due to the rapid development of artificial intelligence. In recent years, the topic of remote control through network connections among many digital devices has made users pay attention to the intelligent home safety issue. Linking various digital technologies by Wi-Fi is internet protocol through a hub, unlike the typical Television remote system, constructs a ‘Smart Home’ (Kaspersky, 2023). It can connect the light switches with networks, and users use a specific app on their mobile devices to control the lights turn on or off, even they can set up timing. How smart homes change people’s lives and make life more convenient. At the same time, they have the risk of invading people’s private life as the devices will collect and learn their activities. In the instance of ‘Smart Home’, users often link their mobile phones with the remote control to manipulate their homes, but this will put their valuable personal details in danger of intrusion. Users should consider applying a separate network that is particular for managing the remote system. On the other hand, some suggestive external protection means are necessary. Firstly, passwords have high security for users’ smartphones, computers, iPads and routers, and users may change their passwords every half a year. Secondly, firewalls are helpful insurance for information privacy and installing anti-virus applications on digital devices.
The Internet has become easy to infringe on users’ privacy and expose in modern societies. Big data collects and learns humans’ daily online activities through diverse digital technologies to capture and store users’ private details on the cloud. Although information transparency and sharing can improve the development of personalized services, allowing users too much easier to reach their search results and develop social bonds, individuals may endanger privacy invasion and the ability to regulate their personal data online. In addition, an essential prerequisite for proactive self-protection of online privacy is a good attitude toward privacy security valued, except for learning how to browse online effectively. The research by Dienlin and Trepte (Büchi & Latzer, 2017) shows that having positive user privacy behaviors can impact the outcome of securing personal data in the survey study of 595 Internet users.
The right to privacy is a fundamental and vital human right, which provides a secured psychological space for every individual to share ideas and does not allow others to intervene without permission. The fast growth of information communication technology industry not only offers chances to people to reduce time and cost consumption on communication, but also places their privacy in danger of disclosure on the internet at an uncontrolled speed. The issue of users’ online privacy is on-solving and contradictory between users and developers. Users want to ensure their identifiable data security when they use social media platforms; yet the developers care the profits more than users’ data protection. The invention of networks enjoys two-sided features that it benefits instant feedback communication and the emergence of peripheral digital industries, such as online shopping, social media influencers and smart homes, but increases the risks of privacy exposure and intrusion of human rights.
To create a safe and equal rights online environment for users’ private information, well-managed social media platforms with effective user terms and the companies should pay more attention on setting up firewalls to monitor the data collection companies that illegally amass users’ data. Moreover, users should have optimistic behaviors of dealing with their own personal online information. The correct internet manipulation skills are also helpful for self-protection of privacy. Users can adopt their own way to protect their online details. They do not over share their personal life on the social media. At the same time, be aware of frauds who try to use any means to gain your personal information. Online privacy is also a legal human right that prevents users from illegally invasion on the internet. Therefore, privacy protection also applies to the network environment. An approved security method by law is necessary to provide a safer shelter for users to browse on the internet. The owners of the media digital platforms should enhance their surveillance on illegitimate collecting data system through networks.
Australian Human Rights Commission. (n.d.). What are human rights?. https://humanrights.gov.au/about/what-are-human-rights
Australian Government Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. (n.d.). What is privacy?. https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/your-privacy-rights/your-personal-information/what-is-privacy
Benyamin, C. (2021). Should celebrities expect privacy?. The Perspective. https://www.theperspective.com/debates/entertainment/celebrities-expect-privacy
Buhmann, K., & Olivera, R. (2020). Human rights and social media platforms: The corporate responsibility to respect human rights in regard to privacy infringements involving photo posting. Australian Journal of Human Rights, 26(1), 124–141. https://doi.org/10.1080/1323238X.2020.1802559
Büchi, M., Just, N., & Latzer, M. (2017). Caring is not enough: the importance of Internet skills for online privacy protection. Information, Communication & Society, 20(8), 1261–1278. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2016.1229001
Goggin, G. (2023). ARIN6902 Internet cultures and governance, week 4: issues of concern: privacy, security and digital rights [PowerPoint slides]. University of Sydney Canvas. https://canvas.sydney.edu.au/courses/48167/pages/issues-of-concern-privacy-security-and-digital-rights?module_item_id=1827845
Kaspersky. (2023). How safe are smart homes?. https://www.kaspersky.com.au/resource-center/threats/how-safe-is-your-smart-home
Karppinen, K. (2017) Human rights and the digital. In Routledge Companion to Media and Human Rights. In H. Tumber & S. Waisbord (eds) Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge pp 95-103.
OVIC. (n.d.). The importance of privacy. https://ovic.vic.gov.au/privacy/resources-for-organisations/privacy-officer-toolkit/the-importance-of-privacy/
TechRepublic Staff in Security. (2020). Facebook data privacy scandal: A cheat sheet. TechRepublic. https://www.techrepublic.com/article/facebook-data-privacy-scandal-a-cheat-sheet/
Suzor, Nicolas P. (2019). ‘Who Makes the Rules?’. In Lawless: the secret rules that govern our lives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 10-24.
Adem AY. (2021). White and pink digital device photo [Photo]. Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/Tk9m_HP4rgQ
Brown, A. (2022). How to design a smart home: a detailed guide [Photo]. Amazing Architecture. https://amazingarchitecture.com/articles/how-to-design-a-smart-home-a-detailed-guide
Browne, R. (2018). Facebook ‘concealed the truth’ of what it knew about Cambridge Analytica, lawmaker claims [Image]. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/26/facebook-concealed-truth-of-cambridge-analytica-scandal-uk-mp-says.html
madartzgraphics. (n.d.). Hacker hacking cyber security hack cyber space [Image]. Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/illustrations/hacker-hacking-cyber-security-hack-1944688/
Patel, M. (2020). How much privacy should celebrities expect in public? [Photo]. The Spokesman. https://thespokesman.net/3471/opinion/how-much-privacy-should-celebrities-expect-in-public/