For the Internet to be the accessible and safe environment we want it to be, we all have to work together. However we have to accept that as Internet users we are not in complete control.
We are subject to privacy breaches that result from targeted policies of service providers and advertising networks that harvest our information. Perhaps being treated like data points is fair compensation for some of the ‘free’ services we enjoy. Perhaps it is not, especially when our anonymity is traded without our permission.
We can become the victims of other people’s malice or carelessness, such as when a bank, a retailer or even a government department gets hacked and people’s personal information becomes publicly traded. The responsibility here lies with corporations and government to not only prevent such cyber-attacks but to at least inform us when such data breaches occur. Laws and regulations need be amended to require companies to disclose data breaches to anyone who might be affected.
However there is much we, the Internet community, can control and take responsibility for. We can control the passwords we use and what we say and how we behave on social media. We can take responsibility to ensure that we use technology in a manner that doesn’t harm others. We can also take responsibility for our online privacy and adjust our online habits to help prevent security breaches.
The Internet is constantly changing the way young (and not so young) people live and interact with each other and the wider Internet community. There are many benefits to this paradigm social shift, but we cannot forget the social responsibilities and basic decency that make our physical world a functioning environment. These values should not be overlooked and ignored in the digital world. We need to ensure that our online presence works for us – not against us.
The Internet belongs to us all. We all benefit from it and it is our joint responsibility to protect it.