Privacy In Press And Internet

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A discussion about privacy and its definition is as old as mankind. Everything started with the protection of individual’s body and house, which continuously evolved into controlling individual’s personal information. History proves that evolution and also makes clear evidence of an undoubtedly strong relationship between privacy and the technology development. This is the reason why I chose to discuss, analyse and compare two pretty similar, but also notably different mass media. One of which is print, the oldest and the most common mass media in the world. In contrast to print, one of the youngest mass media, internet. Their purpose is quite similar, however, their impact on the individual’s privacy is diametrically opposed.

Even though the modern printing is dated since Johannes Gutenbergs invention of the printing press in 15th century, the prints roots go much deeper into the history. The first evidence of printing has been found in Iraq and surrounded areas, in the place of old Mesopotamia was spread. It is believed, that the artefacts are dated from 3000BC and even earlier.[2] Despite the long history of print, privacy as a generally accepted right was welcomed only in the 19th-20th century. By that time people recognised phenomena which posed a threat to their privacy. Not only gossiping began to spread in newspapers, but also the technological development, namely photography, became a trade. Because of these changes, Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis issued a demand (known as: “the right to be alone” [4]) for a separate general right to privacy which ensured protection against emotional suffering. [3] The whole publication named “The right to privacy” was the first and the most influential article in the US law history. As a consequence of this enormous success, the law of the US was modified and helped to change the public opinion to accept the idea of privacy. Although Europe recognised The right to privacy and followed the US in creating a protection of different kind.[3] As the technology has been progressing and society evolving, the level of privacy in print media was decreasing until in 2000 the privacy law was extended. After 2000 the privacy law was adjusted several times followed with the most strict reformation since the publication “The right to privacy” in 2010. As a consequence of all the strict restrictions which included not only print, but also all media, print became the most secure and private mass media in the world. [5,6] Majority of people today choose print in form of books, newspapers or magazines to be able to enjoy privacy and peace. Compare to the rest of the mass media, the hard copy print is not linked to any other services and the ownership of a book or newspapers for example, offers readers undoubtable feeling of safety and privacy. That is the reason why people still prefer print instead of other mass media.

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On the other hand, the one of the youngest mass media, the internet. The modern internet began to shape in 1983 when researchers based on the existing platform started to assemble the “network of network”. [8] However, the rise of popularity was recognised only after scientist Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web in 1990. While it tends to be confused with the internet itself, the World Wide Web is actually just a tool to access the online world via websites and hyperlinks. [9] With the rising number of users, hand in hand comes also the security and privacy issues. The very first attack on the network is dated in November 1988, an MIT scientist David D. Clark remembers exactly the day he gazed on the dark side of the Internet. He presided a meeting of network engineers to examine and eliminate a “computer worm” which was scudding across the network, when one of the leading computer engineers screamed: “Damn… I thought I had fixed that bug…” [10] The consequences were devastating, thousands of machines crashed and caused million dollars damage. The worm effectively used fundamental nature of the Internet - speed, openness and continuity - to infect computer lines with a malicious code, as well as lack of security. [10] Decade after decade, billions of dollars have been poured into the computer security systems, however, in fact the privacy and security issues have been growing worse every year. [7] One of the highest menaces of the new age of the Internet peaked in 2000, when the largest advertising company by that time, DoubleClick, had been collecting unacceptable detailed browsing information of web users via files named “cookies”. [7] Cookies are basically monitoring people’s online movements, something like online footprints, with great precision. These data are usually used for targeting advertisements, whereas without any link to the actual real individual’s names, addresses or phone numbers. However, in 1999 Abacus Direct, that owned a database of around 90 million households contains names, addresses and their offline buying habits, bought DoubleClick, linked together information from cookies and their database. Suddenly, shopping either online or offline, was not private and anonymous anymore, moreover, all the shopping data was archived in personally identifiable “electronic drawers”. [12]

In recent years a concern about the internet privacy has been increasing and people have plenty of good reasons why. As people’s usage of apps and websites skyrocketed, the chance that somebody is violating their privacy has done so. Personal information is extremely expensive or even priceless in this era and business are trying to gather as much of them as possible to be able to more effectively target their advertisements. It is simple mathematics, more data - information is equal to more money. The problem is getting even bigger, since high number of people are still unaware what is happening or some of them believe that they should blame the corporations. Pierce Hogan, a journalist, commented the situation on his blog: “There’s a lack of understanding and ownership being taken by consumers when it comes to internet privacy, and it’s only digging us into a deeper hole. Each year that the public stays “concerned” but not engaged, it becomes harder to turn the ship around.” [13] Unfortunately, tracking and collecting users online steps is not the only issue to be concern about, there are also high security risks. The data collecting is so huge that the business manipulate with enormous amounts of data and that brings an opportunity to data breach. Generally, it means that when somebody as Facebook is collecting these data from its users, they are supposed to prevent any possibility that the data ends up in third party hands. However, this exactly happened in 2016 when President Donald Trump hired a company, Cambridge Analytica, which gained access to more than 50 million Facebook users’s private information. [14] The data which had been viewed was mostly user’s identities, friend networks and especially “likes”. It is believed that the idea was to map peoples behaviour and personalities, based on their “likes” and create perfect targeted digital adds before the election in 2016. [14] This is just a small example of how private data. gained from simple browsing the internet could be misused, but it definitely supports a verdict of Christopher Mims a The Wall Street Journal journalist: “Privacy is dead.” [15]

In the conclusion I would like to summarise and compare these two mass media, print as the oldest and most common mass media in the world and the Internet which brought so much controversy into people’s lives since it was introduced to wide society in 1990. Print as its hard copy form is here numerous decades and I believe it always will have plenty of supporters. People enjoy reading books and disconnect from the “online world” for a while. Nobody can track their activity and nobody knows what they are reading. It can be called a hundred percent privacy, which cannot be achieved with any other mass media. While the Internet offers endless opportunities, challenges and knowledge, but for high surcharge, privacy. On the internet actually privacy does not exist, it never did and probably it never will. However, people should be informed and aware of the loss of their privacy and should change their behaviour to adjust to this fact. There is plenty of options how to decrease the chance of misusing their private data or avoiding stealing their personal information. It is extremely important that people educate themselves how to protect their privacy, because privacy is priceless. In the end, there is still one choice to be just with yourself and switch off from the crazy world out there, grab a book and enjoy your privacy.

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Privacy In Press And Internet. (2021, August 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Privacy In Press And Internet.” Edubirdie, 18 Aug. 2021,
Privacy In Press And Internet. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
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