NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - When it comes to online privacy, many who skip over the subject have said: "I have nothing to hide, so I'm okay." It's a response to which some experts in the field of privacy point out, even if you're alone in your home, would you be okay with someone watching through your window and taking notes on everything you do the entire day? Because that is essentially what's happening online right now, and it's legal.
For a moment, let's put on hold the fact that the cyber security company McAfee estimates a new strain of malware is created every 4 seconds. And that even the best technology out there can't catch 45 percent of them. Even putting that aside, for now, a larger issue needs to be explained first.
When it comes to internet privacy, we divided it into two categories: privacy in terms of operating safely in our digital world and privacy in terms of operating securely.
Matt Mitchell, hacker, security researcher and founder of Crypto Harlem, points out we all have something to hide. That for instance "when we go meet someone we don't say 'Hi, this is how much money I make, this is my home address and phone number and this is where my parents live and how to get there.'" Yet this information is all legally available online without a compromise in security.
For an example, Mitchell showed us how Google legally tracks an individual. After entering the email of a sample individual we were able to see everywhere this person has been in 2017 in a day breakdown that even shows when the individual was driving and how much that person was walking. The individual, whose identity we are withholding, was shocked to see even the medium- and long-range trips he took were listed and that they included where the person stayed and dined.
Privacy can also affect the prices you pay online. Reports have said the airline industry can post higher prices for people using a Mac instead of a PC with the presumptions that because Apple computers tend to cost more, their users have more money to spend. And airlines track if you've been searching a particular flight multiple times, guessing that you are more determined to take that trip.
The second part of online privacy has to do with security. With so much of our information out there, criminals can steal information amassed legally and use it for everything from identity theft to extortion and ransomware.
"In 2015, four data breaches alone that year compromised more than one-third of our country's population," says Adam Levin, a privacy and identity theft expert and author of "Swiped."
The Fox 5 segment details how stolen information is then sold over and over again on the black market until worth very little it gets placed on a database, which is essentially a clearinghouse. And that is when most of the public finds out about the date breach.
In a startling example, I found out one of my accounts had been breached. And it was only during a demonstration with Matt Mitchell that I found out.
All this is in the framework of Congress now allowing internet providers to sell your browser information with your name attached to it. It may even be legal for them to sell the content of your emails. What will potential employers and insurance companies do with this information?
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