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The 4th industrial revolution:Digital Society and the implication for privacy, safety and Democracy

The right to be left alone and the ability to remain out of the public eye are defining characteristics of privacy, at least according to traditional understanding. However, the notion of privacy has become more nuanced with the Third and Fourth Industrial Revolutions, with people moving much of their lives online and requiring protection of more than just their physical privacy. New technologies emerge and with them new privacy concerns like trust, transparency speed of tech. development and responsibility. It is important to appreciate that the loss of privacy is not caused by the technologies themselves. These technologies are simply tools that follow instructions to gather, analyse, or disseminate data. Rather, privacy violations occur when your personal information is misused, abused, or exploited by individuals, businesses, or States that use that technology

Privacy in a digital world

Today, not only have digital technologies disrupted conventional ideas around privacy, but the speed and frequency of emerging technologies has raised and continues to raise new privacy concerns. A tension exists between technological progress and the right to privacy, especially as the digital economy has come to rely on technologies that use automated, algorithmic, and AI-based systems to collect, analyze, and make inferences based on users’ personal data.This tension is further amplified by the speed and scale of technological change, which creates new privacy concerns that regulators struggle to keep pace with. In fact, according to many we are already living in The Surveillance Society with risks of an Authoritarian State around the corner.

This raises important questions :

Targeted Advertising: what’s the line between the use of targeted advertising and intrusion?

Algorithm Bias: humans have the tendency on encoding their own biases into the algorithms that they create or into the data they use to train those algorithms.AI promised to provide an objective method for making predictions or decisions but algorithms tend to replicate and even amplify human biases, potentially causing harm to individuals. The extensive use of profiling citizens /consumers when making automated decision can cause discrimination because it can create false positives (incorrectly targeting individuals) and false negatives (incorrectly overlooking or excluding individuals).

Technology-driven privacy breaches associated with the use/analysis of personal data can create potential harm with important consequences for individuals(exacerbation of existing wealth inequalities, Loss of liberty ect )

Facial recognition technology : this technologies can be inaccurate.

Track-and-trace for public safety:. the centralized storage and control of personal information by government departments, universities, and employers is vulnerable to cyberattacks, which might expose individuals’ personal data to unauthorized entities

Quantified self: it has become popular for people to monitor, store, and view many aspects of their health and behaviour – from their heart rate. While personal health tracking has risen in popularity, it has also become a central issue in privacy circles, with questions around who collects data, for what purpose, and for whose benefit.

Digital identity systems This includes digital identity systems, where a citizen’s identity details, often including biometric data, are recorded digitally. Such systems promise efficient data sharing and integration for more effective service delivery and administration but there are also some major concerns, including whether governments can provide adequate protection of personal data, as well as the potential for state overreach and abuse.

Social media and Democracy

The rapid shift of Society towards a digital future is having significant implications for Democracy, for the goods and for bad. A decentralized environment (internet) brought on by digital technologies and social media means(in a democratic society) that citizens can now communicate with each other and with political actors directly bypassing the gatekeepers’ role expected by the journalists. The rise of the networked Society has changed citizens from passive receivers of information to active participants. This has some benefits like encouraging editorial diversity, promoting interactivity, keeping the public engaged in important discussions and debates and potentially promotes trust and transparency by bringing together people and experts.

It brings also associated risks because this diverse and widespread participation with informal communication brings also subjective, biased, unrepresentative, or misinformed information disrupting the mechanics of Democracy. As a result, the historical media’s role as a mediator is reduced. The risk of disintermediation of information is that those who produce most public information are often the powerful elites who hope to exend their influence.

With the emergence of new social media more people are able and willing to produce content, meaning that more and more information is now continuously and instantly accessible. A side effect of the information overload is the public’s inability to decipher the credibility of a source and an increased potential for misinformation (information is shared for the purposes of virality or profits, and not credibility). This encourage emotional, extremist, speech to proliferate, resulting in polarised debates that are harmful to a healthy political culture.


By design, the internet is decentralized, which means that the network is not owned or controlled by a single, authoritative entity. .Control lies in the hands of the end user, whether that is an individual, internet service provider, or hosting company. the network should remain as simple as possible and serve only as a transport pathway for information delivery. Thanks to the stupid network architecture, new services and applications could be introduced without changing the network’s core and, hence, without asking anybody’s permission.

The benefits that internet offers are also its weaknesses:

Decentralization and law enforcement As a decentralized network(internet is a collection of networks owned by no one), there is no coordinated law enforcement function that is equipped or mandated to police the network.This makes cyberspace increasingly difficult to police, given that countries have different laws and regulatory policies. Law enforcement agencies are limited by jurisdictional reach. The absence of any international cyberspace governance agreement, with unclear legal consequences, leaves the internet exposed to attack.

Trusting end-to-end design Not only does end-to-end design assume that the end points are trustworthy, but it also places significant responsibility on the end users. Network security at the end points is thus reliant on individuals’ decision to install critical safety updates, activate firewalls, and run antivirus software, for example.

AnonymityInternet allows the anonymity of the digital presence. The separation of online and offline identities and the inability to verify an internet user can present significant risks, such as identify theft and fraud.

Vulnerability of cloud storage Nowadays cloud storage ,a remote, highly scalable storage platform can be accessed from any network-enabled device anywhere around the world and because of the it volume of sensitive data it holds it can be a target for cyberattacks

Vulnerabilities in internet design can allow for opportunistic attacks by cybercriminals, resulting in risks to individuals, businesses, and governments. These consequences/ Threats are:

- Data breached or damaged data : unauthorized access to database to steal or damage personal information

- Denial of Services (DoS): websites are taken down by flooding the target victim with traffic superior to the computational capacity of the victim

- Phishing and spoofing data are stolen through malicious impersonation

- Fraud : perpetrators intentionally misrepresent the truth for personal gain

- Ransomware perpetrators steal personal data and then threatens to publish the victim's data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid.

- Viruses : malicious code that can propagate corrupting files and damage devices and OS

- Internal breaches: employees who, purposely or not, harm the reputation of the company by leaking confidential information, download software , use sensible information

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