Why internet privacy has never been so important

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A new survey carried out by Microsoft examined the attitudes of 4,000 consumers towards internet privacy as part of their Your Privacy Type campaign.

The survey sought to determine different kinds of privacy types amongst users across the globe as well as examine attitudes towards privacy in the digital age.

Research found that the majority of UK users (84 per cent) were concerned about their online privacy. However, further questioning revealed that almost half of users do nothing to help protect their privacy online. This data has been instrumental in Microsoft’s recent ad campaign: “At Microsoft, your privacy is our priority”.

In light of the recent American Online surveillance operation (Prism), the question of internet privacy has never been so pressing – how safe is any data online? And who is looking at it?

Recent reports have shown that the software giant Microsoft were the first company to open their doors to the NSA. Only after Microsoft allowed unrestricted server access did other tech companies such as Google and Facebook follow suit. The Irony of this is apparent: Microsoft has been more than aggressive in their ad campaigns throughout the year with regards to Google’s invasion of privacy as well as with their latest “your privacy is our priority” tagline.

Microsoft have also been cautious in their response to the Prism scandal, claiming that the company only ever provided data to the government when issued with a legal order or subpoena. This cleverly worded response does little to hide the fact that Prism was entirely legal under the Protect America Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, meaning Microsoft were almost entirely aware of the data collection being carried out by the NSA.

This isn’t to say that Microsoft were more complicit than any other company in the Prism fiasco. It does however raise a number of worrying points – not least how private the personal data that we store on cloud servers really is. The future of online privacy is undoubtedly in a state of flux after the Prism leak. Where things will go from here remains uncertain.

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