5 Reasons Why You Should Care About Online Privacy

1. Price discrimination is real

Discrimination isn't just a thing that exists with people, but also with websites and algorithms. Have you heard about the price discrimination and price steering events that happened in the past with Staples and the travel retailer Orbitz? It turns out that Staples was charging customers higher prices depending on what geographical location they were in and Orbitz had shown more expensive hotels to Mac users (as opposed to Linux or Windows users). By hiding your personal information from companies and organizations, you can best protect yourself against these types of online discrimination. Would you would want to pay more for something just because a website knew personal information about you? I certainly wouldn't.

2. Privacy = Power

Having individual privacy means that we can limit the power government, companies, and organizations have on us. The more information that these entities have on us, the more power they have. With every bit of information they acquire, the easier it becomes for them to influence our decisions and shape our behavior (in ways that we don't want). That means that great harm can be caused if our data is in the wrong hands. The Cambridge Analytica incident is a great illustration of this.

3. Privacy allows us to manage our reputations

Sometimes, there are certain pictures, events, stories, etc... that we would never want other people to see, hear, or read about. With privacy, we are able to manage our individual reputations to our liking. We all know how important reputations are to work, life and business and how we are judged by others greatly affects our relationships, opportunities and general well-being. Having access to privacy gives us the power to manage our own reputations, a right that we should all have.

4. Privacy protects from the abuse of personal information

Similar to the example about price discrimination, medical records, financial records, interviews, social media posts and more can also be used in the wrong context. I've heard of stories where people weren't hired as a result of what recruiters found online about them. I'm not going to go into the debate about whether or not this is smart hiring practice, however, I will argue that this action occurred as a result of a lack of privacy.

5. Hackers are actively wanting your personal information

This is the most obvious thing that comes to mind when I think of privacy issues, the intentional act of stealing people's information and misusing it. Some hackers get access to personal information through data breaches (like the Equifax breach that leaked millions of people's data). Others will partake in phishing. Nowadays, hackers are able to figure out your account information even if they only have small pieces of data from you (your birthday, email or mailing address may be enough). Read this story about a Wired writer whose online accounts got hacked and all of his computer and phone files were deleted as a result. How devastating.

These are just some of the reasons why you should care about your online privacy. There are many other reasons out there, some we touched on in our "10 Reasons You Should Use a VPN" article. Ultimately, it's up to you to make the decision on how important privacy is to your life. For us, it's a top priority - we hope it is for you as well.

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