Sample Essay on Internet Privacy and Security

With the proliferation of the internet, from desktops to the mobile phones in people’s pockets, information sharing just cannot be stopped. Moreover, what is concerning is that the information being shared is private and sensitive. In most cases, the intention  may be to share information with an intended circle of people but a third party may transfer it without the sender’s consent. Moreover, what is worse is that it may be used in a way that would not be approvable. Products of some companies are such that there may be loopholes in them that could be exploited and hence make these transfers possible. Some of them have agreed to share the information with governments, who use it for spying, or surveillance, as they prefer to call it, or even leaked them  (Kovach par. 5) . This paper focuses on two stakeholders: T-mobile and Snapchat.

T-mobile is a cell phone carrier in the United States, the fourth largest and under the ownership of Europe’s largest telecommunications company (“T-Mobile phones” par. 2). Being a Smartphone, T-mobile device can be used to access the internet.

On the other hand, Snapchat is a social network platform that allows its users to send photos to an unchecked number of recipients, and includes videos, texts and drawings (“Privacy Policy” par. 1). All Snapchat “messaging is done over the internet.

T-mobile has outlined on its website measures in place to protect their product users from unauthorized access and invasion of privacy (“T-Mobile Privacy Policy…” par. 1). These measures include advice on how to use stronger passwords. The SIM card, SD memory card and the internal memory of the phone itself can be used to store personal information. Misplacement of these devices can jeopardize the information and privacy, it asserts. T-mobile also mentions on the webpage the availability of a caller ID blocking feature. The stakeholder emphasizes that sharing of information on social media using their device is not under its control; the sharer should be the one to take responsibility of what becomes of that information. It goes on to assert that it does not share any information contained in its devices; that any unauthorized access to the cell phone user’s information and privacy can only be the users to take the necessary measures to safeguard and manage it. It can be reckoned, based on t he above paragraph, that T-mobile has a tremendous concern as regards the privacy and security of the users of its mobile device.

Snapchat too has its privacy and security policies in place, as outline on their website, which encompass collection, usage and sharing of information on its platform (“Privacy Policy” par. 2).  The webpage continues to assert that the information the stakeholders collect from their subscribers is primarily meant to facilitate setting up of an account and enabling the subscribers to have a good social experience on their site. The information for setting up an account includes email, unique username, password, phone number, and date of birth. This is information that the subscriber shares with Snapchat. The confidentiality of the information lies with Snapchat.

Snapchat say it uses it the email the subscriber provides primarily to set up a Snapchat account. The subscribers have a username and a password for logging into their accounts. The username and the password, they say, are only available to the subscriber and Snapchat- there is no third party involved. They require the email and a phone number to communicate with their subscriber (“Privacy Policy” par. 4). The stakeholder also says they may as for additional information such as credit or debit card number for use with Snapcash. They may also ask for information concerning security as regards the user’s account.

Snapchat also mentions on its website that information may be collected without the user’s knowledge (“Privacy Policy” par. 8). They say that they use it to enhance communication between its subscribers on its website. The activities of their subscribers on the Snapchat platform are among what they collect. Other information that might be collected about the device used to access Snapchat night include: operating system, the number of the mobile device, and even mobile network information. It claims that it needs this to diagnose and correct problems like crash. It also has access to the user’s phonebook and photos stored in the cell phone or whatever device the user is using to access its services. Snapchat also allows for cookies and other tracking technologies. It stresses that although optional, acceptance or rejection of cookies might affect the fullness of functionality of their services to the individual.

Information is collected without the user’s knowledge. People may want to know if anybody else is able to see their information and, if they approve of it, they may want to have a say on what may be done with the information. Also, having accesses to the user’s phonebook means they also have the phone numbers of people with whom the Snapchatter communicates. Some of the owners of the phone numbers in the Snapchatter’s phonebook may not even be subscribed to Snapchat but Snapchat has access to their phone numbers.  Users may be subjected to cookies and other tracking technologies. Some people may be comfortable with being tracked, others may not.

What does Snapchat use the information for? According to them, they use it to improve the user’s experience on their site,  communicate with user’s, keep track of trend and usage ( they don’t specify if they mean trend and usage of each individual or that of its users as a whole), heighten its product, and enable targeted services such as advertisement and features that suit the user’s taste. They also say they need it to curb fraud or activities that are contrary to the law. They also use it to “carry out any other purpose for which the information was collected.”

Well, some of the usage of this information by the company sounds sensible and justified. It is questionable why they need all of it. Fewer could achieve their intentions.

It appears that Snapchat asks for and retains so much information compared to T-mobile. In addition, with the advent of the government requesting companies to give up their information on their subscribers for surveillance purposes, Snapchat has too much to offer.

While the information may be helpful in terms of service to subscribers and users, Internet users should read carefully the privacy policies before subscribing to them, and be careful about the information they share. Companies should also seek the users’ consent as to what they may do with user’s information. Everyone has a part to play.

Works Cited
 “Privacy Policy.” Snapchat. np, 17 Nov.  2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
 “T-Mobile phones.” Phone Arena. n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

“T-Mobile Privacy.” T-Mobile. np, 30 Dec. 2013. Web. 22 Feb. 2015

“Why Snapchat Should Apologize.” Business Insider. Steve Kovach, 3 Jan. 2014.

Web. 22 Feb. 2015.