Posted: October 27th, 2022

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Privacy

Human beings all over the world value their privacy and they need to be protected within their personal sphere. It means that nobody wants to lose control over what is known about them. Nobody wants that the personal information and what they hold confidential be accessible to anybody at any time. However, the increasing number of high-tech companies has reduced the control people have over their personal data and hence opening up more room for negative consequences when it comes to access to personal data. Since the onset of technology, there is an increasingly emphasis on the using personal data especially when accessing the information from the high-tech companies websites. The processing of personal data has been put at the center of every activity.

The rise in technology led has however, been countered by emergence of data protection policies. These are the regulations put in place to ensure that the companies collecting the personal information. However, the big-tech companies have adopted more technological advances such as big data and deep learning which increases the storage and the processing of more data. The cases of Cambridge Analytica have all demonstrated the negative impacts that these big-tech companies can cause when it relates to privacy. These are organizations that are capable of collecting, storing and searching large data quantities. The main reason why these institutions are concerned about personal data is because they use it in analyzing the markets and reaching out to the potential customers. therefore, every big tech company that uses personal data centered business model such as Amazon and Apple Inc. have been described as business on surveillance capitalism. Although these businesses pursue their interest, of great importance is the value of privacy which has become a great controversy. This is because there is an increasing power of the new technology but the clarity of the privacy agreements is conflicting in terms of law, policy, morals, and ethics. Therefore, this paper will seek to explore the relationship between high-tech companies and the threat to privacy being experienced in the world today.

Overview

The debate about privacy is evolving every time as the big-tech companies continuously come up with new methods and measures of acquiring personal data. The issues of search engines, wearable sensors, social media, and big data have all been centered on acquiring and managing information for the benefits of the organization. People are reacting in two ways when it comes to the rising development of technology by these tech companies. First of all, they believe that the digital age has left no room for privacy and hence there is no way to protect it. The second group of people believes that privacy is paramount and must be protected by all means.

There are different accounts of the nature of privacy in the life of a human being. Thereductionists state that privacy is all about the things that people value from a moral perspective. As such, it is possible to reduce privacy from the highly moral place to other sources of value. Therefore, the people have a right to liberty and dignity and hence the information provided should not undermine the values of a person’s privacy. On the other hand, the non-reductionist view holds that privacy is valuable and hence the importance cannot be derived from other considerations. This means that privacy and personal sphere in the life of a person is a human right.

High-tech companies have been increasingly devising means of acquiring more personal information from the customers. This is information that can be linked to the individual persons. Such information includes the date of birth, sexual preference, religion, current location, and credit card information. The greatest threat to privacy is that with increased incidences of cyber insecurity such information can fall into the wrong hands. The exposure of data online from the First American Bank database is an example of how these big-tech companies can compromise the privacy of the people either willingly or unwillingly.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this research is to research how advancing technological adoption by the big-tech companies is influencing the processing of personal and private information. Gathering, storing, storage and distribution of information within the companies in various formats increases the chances of privacy breach. For example, Facebook contains personal information to all its users. This means that the information is effective in enhancing political mileage for the politicians. Using the information of one person and their contacts one can reach as many people as possible. However, this can be done because one consents to the privacy terms. The problem is these big-tech companies leave the customers with no option and hence one must consent. In this world today, it has become impossible to maintain any form of privacy especially because these companies have maximized on avenues to acquire data and manage their big data. Private communications are impossible because there is a possibility of retrieving information. The privacy of personal information is becoming extinct in this era because incidences of government hacking, cybercrime, and voluntary release of customers information is increasing.

Background Information

The issue of privacy from the companies such as Google, Amazon, Apple Inc., and Facebook started to rise after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This is a case where information belonging to more than 87 million Facebook users was obtained by the political data-analytics company without the consent of the people. The issues with the transparency of Apple supply chain also led to more scrutiny in these big-tech companies. The main aim and the greatest concern is that these companies use personal data for their profitability and competitive advantage. This means that depending with the amount of data they hold, they are able to turn it into money.

Privacy has not been in the top of the mind of many people. However, there have been many data breaches that have left personal information in the wrong hands. There is more interest on how the big-tech companies use the information acquired. In the past, privacy concerns were fewer especially because there was no information acquired over the internet. However, technology used is continuously developing. It is influencing privacy not because there is a change in accessibility but rather due to change in the privacy norms. The rise in a company such as Facebook has invited more people to share more information than they would do in an ordinary day. This exposes greater lengths of their life to the public and some information may be accessed and used negatively.

The growth of information technology saw a rise in assurance that companies were concerned about the privacy of the consumers. However, although they have privacy notices, these companies are constantly going against the established policies. This is mainly because there is a lack in proper government regulation. The companies are able to breach privacy clauses established and get away with it. Facebook caused great damage to the people whose information was leaked but remains operational. This shows how the big-tech companies have controlled the information they acquired and hence privacy has become less important than business gains.

History

Privacy issues surrounding most big-tech companies are new to the world. This is because it is the rise of use of internet that has increasingly brought about new technologies that enable data collection, sharing, and storage. The first Smartphone from Apple Inc. was released in 2007. However, the capabilities present were few and unable to acquire much personal information from the customers. However, as at 2019 the smartphone has become a device that can carry out transactions from a bank, do shopping and pay for anything. This is the major reason the big tech companies are maximizing on this. They are able to acquire as much information as possible within a short time and from all over the world.

The privacy concerns have however; become rampant after cybercrime incidents have grown. It has become possible for the hackers to invade the information system of these companies and acquire information that can be damaging to the consumers. The Internet was conceived in the 1960s and developed in the 1980s as a method of acquiring and exchanging information. However, the lower levels of technological development at the time raised no privacy concerns. The coming up of social media networks, search engine and artificial intelligence have all provided an avenue for the companies to acquire more information. In the past, the privacy issues that rose were dealt with as add-ons as opposed to design issues. However, right now this is problem that is fast spreading. Although the big tech companies have been able to go around the cases concerning privacy, there remains to be a huge issue with ensuring public information is safe. In 2019 alone, companies such as Amazon experienced data loss from Alexa, Facebook had data of over 267 million users exposed online, and Google leaked web activities of netizens to the advertisers in Europe. This shows that the big tech companies have grown into giants but the issue of privacy is constantly becoming a nightmare to them.

Discussion

The big-tech companies have been blamed for the problem of loss of privacy in the world today. Developments in technology have enabled these giants to develop new and enticing methods of acquiring information from the customers. This is irrespective of the fact that they are able to use the information without consulting the consumers at first. The rules and regulations of information privacy which is the relationship existing between data collection and dissemination and the public expectations of privacy have been breached. The big-tech companies are able to use such information for marketing and competition analysis.

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