Online Data Protection, Privacy Breaches, and Digital Rights


With the introduction of 5G communications and even higher network technologies, the number of devices linked to the Internet now exceeds the global population. The number of linked devices is predicted to triple, from 22.9 billion in 2016 to 50 billion in 2020 (Ahmed, E., 2017). Users must engage in various social behaviors via the internet platform, and to enjoy the accessible functions on these digital platforms, users must submit their personal information upon registration. Typically, any data created or held by the user is considered user data. Because the Internet has such an extensive database, the platform’s preservation of user data and security are crucial.

What is data privacy?

(The Data Privacy Paradox and Digital Demand, 2021)

User data refers to electronic data information provided by the user in conjunction with using the product, such as identity information, relationships, device position, banking or payment details, and other stored information available on the device. Data privacy, conversely, symbolizes users’ ability to manage who has access to their sensitive data and safeguard it from third parties who ought to avoid it. However, the value of privacy differs by region, with a focus on other valuable enterprises such as private data, banking details, intellectual property, and personal health information. Data privacy is more than just one concept or technique; it covers legislative frameworks, regulations, practices, third-party memberships (such as storage cloud service providers), data governance protection, and privacy requirements (Bigelow, 2022).

Privacy criteria differ by country due to culture, customs, and history, and there are even subtle differences between men and women, with women more inclined to agree to actively protect their privacy online (71% vs. 63% of men) and change their social media settings (63% vs. 58% of men). Nevertheless, they do not feel more in control of their privacy (39% vs. 38% of males) (Goggin, 2017).

Exchange of information and services on the Internet

Data collection is fundamental to the business model of Internet sites. The platform makes user data available to other companies via application programming interfaces (API), which provide detailed data on collected user activity and metrics, allowing for the further development of platform-based applications and services (Flew, Terry, 2021). Free services are a front for other disinformation actors and countermeasures, as well as for the monetization of users’ data. In their daily online platform services, poor people are forced to submit personal information via internet platforms in exchange for essential services (Marwick, 2019). In the technology business, products are frequently considered voluntary exchanges, in which people share personal information in exchange for benefits. In exchange for “free” services, this universal information can benefit massive commercial marketing, so user data has excellent economic value.

Most people will choose the specific product or service they want, such as providing an email address in exchange for a coupon. This information will be collected from organizations that people are unaware of, and most of the time, people are unaware that their data is being collected. At the same time, various situations in society require people to provide personal details to obtain social services. In the United States, companies frequently request credit reports for low-wage employment, such as telemarketing, transportation, and home health insurance, although the information provided has little impact (Marwick, 2019). 

As a result, the information provided is more likely to be leaked because outside organizations can hack cloud storage that breaches the program, capture it, steal it, and sell it.

Data breach

(Kena Betancur, 2018)

The extensive database requires improved security systems. In March 2024, data involving 73 million AT&T clients was released to the dark web in a leak that could have originated in 2019 or earlier periods and included personal information such as identities, email addresses, and dates of birth, while AT&T subscribers experienced cell phone signal obstacles for up to 12 hours in February (AT&T Addresses Recent Data Set Released on the Dark Web, 2024). The data breach demonstrates that Internet corporations do not adopt adequate cybersecurity procedures and technologies for databases where user data is stored, there are significant security flaws in defense methods, and there is no complete oversight of third-party access to data providers. Data breaches can reduce trust and prompt users to consider the relationship between uploading personal data and privacy and security. This leads them to doubt that the company’s security measures, the network’s 5G technology, and their ability to protect their uploaded personal information are no longer safe.

Malicious selling can also result in the leakage of internet information; these kinds of instances are typically related to commercial marketing. Some real estate brokers or advertisers buy vast amounts of personal data from unsavory sources to send adverts to the target groups to market their goods or services. In 2020, a user discovered 538 million pieces of microblogging user information for sale on the dark web, with 172 million offering basic account information for 0.177 Bitcoin (Chen, 2020). One of the leaked cell phone numbers was brute force matched using an interface where individuals contributed their address book information. In contrast, most publicly available information was gathered from user postings made on the internet.

The data leak will make consumers more cautious about using internet platforms and the photographs and stories they share on social media. Despite their worries about their privacy, many people continue to reveal a lot of sensitive data online due to the popularity of digital platforms, and they frequently fail to read and comprehend the privacy policies of the platforms they use.

Data protection and transparency

(Kumar, 2024)

Data privacy protection has been highlighted as a fundamental human right; nonetheless, users face difficulties in maintaining a balance between transparency and data protection. The international character of the Internet poses challenges to the security of user data. It may even violate the right to personal data due to the difficulty in identifying the geographical areas of countries through which compromised data may flow. Internet communications are moving far faster than people can keep up with. To ensure that the information provided is utilized appropriately and safeguarded, the public has grown more worried about the transparency of online platforms. According to a study by Label Insight, 73% of consumers are willing to pay extra for items that offer complete transparency (Insight, L, 2018). Businesses that allow users to share and access content make enormous revenues by using the personal information they own to create obvious adverts. Unfortunately, this process’s use of personal data is not based on sustainable development or respect for human rights, which will harm users’ rights and make it impossible to undo abuse and human rights violations on the platform.

Thus, data security and transparency are equally crucial. For a clear and comprehensive knowledge of the kinds, methods, and means by which the firm collects and uses personal data, transparency in the operation of an Internet platform company entails being transparent about the application of all terms and conditions of the platform. On the one hand, excessive transparency may result in excessive information sharing, endangering user privacy. Excessive data protection, on the other hand, might hinder transparency by requiring organizations to withhold information to safeguard user privacy. Because of this, privacy violations have raised public awareness of the disparity between data security and transparency. Additionally, transparency and data protection are well-balanced with the rise of blockchain technology. Blockchain technology is a sophisticated database system that stores information in blocks and allows networks of businesses to exchange information transparently (Singh, 2023). This technique uses a public and private key encryption mechanism to guarantee that sensitive privacy information is not revealed in publicly available data.

Digital rights

Data rights are rights from many subjects based on data as an object. The protection of digital rights has become crucial in the current digital era. These rights include the freedoms and rights users have on digital platforms, such as the ability to freely express their thoughts and the right to manage their personal data. The user is the primary source of data collection due to the growing digitization of social life and the declining cost of data collection and storage. A significant amount of data is gathered, saved, and used. Computer algorithms enable the creation of links between the data to infer the trajectory of the user’s previous actions and forecast future decisions (Mayer-Schonberger et al., 2013).

In addition to violating an individual’s right to privacy, unprotected data rights lead to numerous data leaks that violate that right, as well as violations of an individual’s right to personality and property. These incidents may also include unlawful data collecting and sale. Large data sets are important for businesses since they are linked to the development of products and have significant strategic and economic value. The arrangement of rights on personal data directly determines the flow and sharing of data and the development of the data industry (Xiao Chen, 2018).

Conflicts between the interests of different rights are inevitable due to the diversity of data subjects, and there is also a great deal of discussion around whether the state’s public power can infringe on personal data to maintain its sovereignty. The governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Brazil have requested on several occasions that Apple allow them to access a backdoor to aid in crime prevention and detection (Bellaby, 2018). Users who feel the government has infringed upon their right to privacy have voiced strong objections to the decision even though it is meant to strengthen national security.

People’s discontent stems primarily from three factors: a lack of control over information (despite government efforts to safeguard it, users may still be concerned about its potential use), a lack of understanding of how platforms, Internet companies, and governments handle user information, and a lack of trust in the system that protects data rights and privacy. Therefore, to safeguard data rights and advance their development, it is important to consider the rights of various subjects when doing so. Additionally, it is important to respect the rights of individuals, businesses, nations, and data owners while also protecting their interests.

How to protect online data privacy and security

(Christopher and Alamy, 2016)

Nearly every day, people use the Internet for searches, even in private or confidential modes. However, online data can be captured, used, and sold by advertising or unauthorized organizations. A virtual private network (VPN) shields users from hackers by encrypting their Internet traffic, even when utilizing a public network. Protecting personally identifiable information can also be done with firewalls and multiple authentication (MFA). Users should also exercise greater caution when interacting with web interfaces using web browsers. According to Deloitte, 91% of data breaches happen due to phishing (Ravichandran, 2023). Furthermore, to reduce the amount of private personal information leaked online, users should exercise greater caution when deciding what information to disclose publicly on social media. Examine the permissions required of applications, comprehend the terms of service the platform accepts, and confirm the extent of data collection and sharing on digital platforms. Users should use a secure password manager to save their passwords safely or quickly change their account passwords in case of a data breach.


While the Internet has made data collection easier, it has also played a part in global data breaches. User data privacy depends on users actively managing and controlling their privacy and on digital network platforms closely monitoring, strengthening defenses, enhancing firewalls, and supporting Internet companies to increase transparency and uphold users’ rights to access, manage, and remove personal data. Government-controlled data for government departments frequently has a larger sample size and is more comprehensive. The government must improve data privacy protection and desensitization processing mechanisms, process data deformation of personal privacy and sensitive information in data, develop more comprehensive information security rules, improve the security call system, and effectively avoid security risks in data flow.


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