© istock photo / Maksim Kabakou
The Internet Society works in both the technical and policy arenas, supporting the development of tools and policies that empower people to manage their online identities and the 'digital footprint' they leave behind.
Why It Matters
The ability for individuals to interact online without sacrificing their personal privacy is a vital part of the Internet's value, and is intimately related to its trustworthiness.
Privacy is about retaining the ability to disclose data consensually, and with expectations about the context and scope of sharing. Identifiability, linkability of data, and the mining of vast quantities of aggregated information all erode the individual's ability to manage disclosure, context and scope. Networks depend on the use of unique (and often identifying) numbers, and facilitate the instant global dissemination of information; increasingly, devices and applications gather and use geolocation data that builds up into a unique 'track' for each user. A growing commercial ecosystem based on targeted and behavioural advertising results in an inexorable financial pressure for service providers to exploit personal data. The privacy implications of the current Internet represent a significant and growing concern.
The Internet Society's Trust and Identity initiative includes dedicated outreach activities on identity and privacy. These are aimed at technology vendors and adopters, to encourage privacy-respecting technology deployment, and at policymakers and legislators to provide the necessary counter-balances to commercial expediency. The Trust and Identity initiative also aims to ensure that users are better informed about the benefits of good online privacy, so that they can make better privacy choices and make use of appropriate privacy-enhancing tools online.