Threats posed by the internet to personal privacy

Essay by smittynco April 2006

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Privacy is a very important issue to Internet users. Fear of disclosure of personal information about an individual has prevented many from using the Internet. According to a 2000 U.S. News & World Report survey, 86% of Internet users fear that continued use of the Web threatens their privacy. Private information, in the wrong hands, can cause a great deal of harm to the individuals concerned. There are several issues related to the Internet and privacy that raise concerns for many users. The users of the Internet should understand the ways that their personal information is obtained and some ways to prevent, at least some of, their information from being divulged when using the Internet

Information is readily available on the Internet and very easily accessible. There is information that users would prefer not be disclosed that are easily obtained. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can provide a plethora of information about an individual, including name, address, and credit card.

They can recapture email that was sent through their services. In addition, ISPs can recapture session information, such as the sites that were visited by a user, through its service. ISPs have divulged personal and private information about individuals, leading to embarrassment and negative employment situations.

Cookies are another way that information is obtained on a user. Cookies are small records placed on a user's computer while visiting a website. The website can read the cookie later to identify the personal preferences. This information will enable the user to navigate the website more easily on return visits. Websites can recall registration information, so that users do not have to register each visit. Cookies also enable a user to move forward and backward within a site each session. Most cookies last during a user's session, but some can be programmed...