Is our privacy really protected by going offline and digital?
Back when wallets were then filled with bills and notes that we call cash, now people go around with nary a bunch of that. Instead, it has been replaced with loads of plastics that we call ATM cards – credit cards, debit cards, shopping cards – representing various cashless and anonymous transactions, yet leaving a trail of what, where when, and how much a person’s transactions went. Data collection became a lot easier with the advent of APIs, with records of an individual’s every financial runabout contained and sorted in many different ways in big data pools that serve as predictors for big tech exploiting spending habits and financial lifestyles much to their advantage. In short, the value of personal information nowadays is so expensive that exploitation of personal information has become a matter of concern.
One of the possibilities that the Internet has brought into human lives and consciousness came into being with cashless payments much to the user’s convenience. Cash would not necessarily be carried anymore as its mere physical possession pose dangers like theft or loss. Payments via the Internet need not one be physically present just to pay bills. Partnerships between credit firms and cashless exchanges have allowed payments and purchases without the availability of funds via free credit for a period of 90 days. The accumulation of reward points is used for cashback rewards and redemption packages like free airline miles as a frequent flier. Cashless payment systems organize the documentation of expenditures which is a helpful lot in preparing tax returns.
Value exchanges before the advent of payment technology like cash and barter systems carry no privacy issues other than keeping a record of the exchange for documentation purposes and repeat orders. Online trading took privacy to another level as personal records were good as cash, or even better. Centralized systems gain control and access over sensitive information as even these authorized parties can exploit sensitive records. Institutions responsible for recordkeeping such as banks, credit unions, and the government are potential misusers and invaders of privacy. It is now the turn of digital platforms to have access and control over peoples’ information all because of the digitization of business models.
The threat of identity theft, fraud, extortion, and ransomware has also arisen parallel to the Internet as the convergent zone for digital users. Hacks and attacks are gaining prevalence as most still have to be conscious of securing their privacy before a substantial counteroffensive may be launched.
Since the decentralized character of digital platforms makes them highly unregulated, running after cybercriminals and bringing them to court can be a very difficult activity and futile at that. The good thing is that governments now are getting into the instances of cyberactivities with amounts of regulation being introduced into legislation so that certain accountability and justice can be achieved by tracing and penalizing wrongdoers.
The anti-money laundering law and the know-your-customer procedures are giant leaps in curbing illegal activities on the Internet like the financing of terrorism. Fintech companies are offered regulation and bank charter provisions to facilitate the transactions of fiat, cryptocurrencies, and other digital and real assets to earn peoples’ trust and confidence and their rightful protection against invasions of privacy.
The time of surveillance economy has finally come, and for the crypto environment to flourish to a global scale, an individual’s right to privacy must be upheld by authorities and personal consciousness must first and foremost be at the individual’s expense as the first line of defense, whether online or offline before the battle for privacy can be won.