If you were asked to choose between an orange and an apple, which would you go for?

The above seems like a simple question, but subtle information about you are now being used to profile you in ways you could never have imagined. In fact, such questions might be what stands between you and access to a certain product/ service in the future.

You wouldn’t even know such information had been collected about you and would be none the wiser about why your application kept getting rejected.

Put in yet another way, that is how the internet – and the slew of scary tools being launched around it – are soon going to be an important part of our futures.

How is the internet invading our privacy?

In more ways than one, if you ask us. It is almost like your data is being collected and recorded everywhere you go today.

Where did you think all those end-of-the-year reports come from otherwise?

Here are some everyday examples of how the internet is taking away your privacy from you:

  • Big data analytics

 In a bid to make more sales, convert more customers and such other thoughts on the same line, companies and organizations have resorted to big data.

This just refers to a large pool of data which is taken and analyzed to look for trends, patterns and behavioral trends. From there, a company can hack the online shopping habits of a consumer to show them some products over others. An entertainment company (such as Netflix and YouTube) could use such information to suggest content to you.

All that sounds cute till you see that it is an easy tool for user and consumer manipulation.

  • Internet of Things

When this concept first launched, it was promoted as something to make lives easier.

Think about the possibility of having your home windows, heating system, refrigerator and much more on a single internet connection to be controlled from a mobile phone/ an internet-enabled device. It would sound interesting until you know that the companies behind these units are collecting sensitive data about how you use them.

Everything you do in the comfort of that home is suddenly going online.

  • Machine learning:

There was a time when we used to learn about machines. These days, they are now in the position to learn about us, and how we can be manipulated too. The machines can identify behavioral tendencies and report back to their overlords who use such data for their own selfish gain.

How can this backfire?

Let’s start with the problem of the IoT system.

Even if you could encrypt your phone and other devices with passwords, we don’t see how you could do the same with IoT units. When the companies behind the units are not busy collecting and monitoring your usage data and daily lifestyle, hackers might be looking to get into your home network.

Once they hack the weak link unit, there is no telling how much of your home they can gain control of.

Machine learning is even more disgusting. The trends they identify can help segregate society even further, and they won’t even know it.

Already, some credit card companies will decide whether or not to give you their cards based on the kind of car accessory you are most likely to pick when presented with options.

Know where they got that insight from? Yes, the machines – and they didn’t even allow you to defend yourself.

Protecting Yourself

If you think this is the height of it, think again. This was not how things were in the past, and we should worry about what the future of internet privacy holds for us all. That is why you have to take preventive action from now on before it’s too late.

  • Encrypt your connections – This is non-negotiable. Make sure your home connection is encrypted and difficult to penetrate. This will help prevent unauthorized access to data you send on the network
  • Keep yourself anonymous – The only way you can be pigeonholed is if your computer is identified with you. That is why you should use tools (such as VPNs) to keep yourself safe on the internet.
  • Update your apps – Developers of the smart home and IoT apps might not be the good guys, but they do look out for you too. Whenever you receive the notification to update, don’t hesitate to do so. That will help squash some bugs that could have been exploited
  • Use private browsers – Don’t want to be followed around on the internet? Using private browsers like Tor will get the job done. Layer this connection over a VPN for the best effect
  • Employ adblockers – Because, as their name implies, they prevent ad distribution networks from tracking you all around the web.


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