The past two decades have seen technology play a vital role in societal advancement. Nowadays, everything utilizes technology in some form, from schools to enterprises to the typical person. Technology has allowed society to progress and lets citizens protect themselves with various tools (VPNs, adblockers, Tor, etc.).
But not all technology has our best interests in mind. Many forms of technology aim to reduce the privacy of citizens in the name of security, to mine the data of users to make a quick profit. This technology aims to usher in a new surveillance age, a period where privacy loses its meaning.
3 Ways Technology Protects Our Privacy
Let’s first discuss a piece of technology that allows users to stay safe and increase their privacy and security:
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allow users to stay anonymous online without using a different browser or service. The way VPNs do this is by masking the IP address of the user and anonymizing the data sent from the device it’s installed on.
VPNs started gaining traction in the early 2000s. Nowadays, a VPN download is one of the best ways to help with anonymity online and keep cybercriminals and thieves at bay.
The Tor Browser
The security users are granted on the Internet has been in question since its inception. In 1995, the U.S. Naval Research Lab decided to work on a solution that would secure, anonymous communication. The result is what we, today, know as the Tor Browser, just Tor for short.
Tor utilizes “onion routing,” a decentralized network that uses servers owned by diverse groups to ensure hands-off security. Each piece of data is wrapped in layers of encryptions (hence the “onion” in onion routing), ensuring each piece of data stays secure during transfer.
Nowadays, people use Tor for anything, from secure browsing to visiting the deep web. One thing is for sure, though—Tor is much safer than browsers like Chrome and Edge.
Besides Tor, there are other browsers designed from the ground up to grant users total anonymity and security. Browsers like Brave and DuckDuckGo use automatic HTTPS connections, in-house ad-blocks, and native password managers to protect the user and give them a hassle-free experience.
Most privacy browsers offer the same things Chrome or Firefox do but with upgraded security. If you care about security, take a look at a few of the privacy browsers available today.
3 Ways Technology Invades Our Privacy
As mentioned earlier, not every piece of technology has the user’s privacy in mind. Let’s go over a few pieces of technology that—despite offering convenience and security—invade users’ privacy.
Facial recognition technology revolves around any technology capable of scanning someone’s face to confirm their identity, store their data, or keep them in a database for governmental reasons.
Facial recognition has become commonplace, with consumer devices such as Windows laptops and iPhones using facial recognition to unlock and verify the identity of the owner.
While facial recognition may improve security in some places, its existence is surrounded by controversy and threatens the privacy of citizens around the world. Cities like London have come under scrutiny for entertaining the idea of placing surveillance cameras everywhere.
Android users, have you ever had your phone ask you to rate and review a place you just visited? Isn’t it strange how your phone knows? Even if you turn location services off, Google still finds out where you’ve been.
Location monitoring, the concept of tracking a user’s location through software and hardware, has become a major issue in the tech world. With it on—and often by default—companies and manufacturers can track your whereabouts, including your government.
While digital banking has made banking and organizing finances much easier than before, it’s ripe with problems. When we say “electronic money,” we’re talking about money stored in these digital banks.
Digital banking is susceptible to online identity theft, website vulnerabilities, fake transactions, and more. While physical banking isn’t perfect either, it’s much easier to breach the security of a banking site than it is a physical bank’s security.
Technology is not inherently bad like many would have you believe, but it would be wrong to say companies and governments have not used technology for personal gain. Citizens are at threat of potential surveillance states, but that’s not to say technology is fully bad. Plenty of good exists! But users need to be careful and pay attention to the negative aspects of certain technologies.