Privacy is one of the biggest issues in the world, especially in the U.S. Your personal information is being sold on the internet—without your consent. You can go to whitepages.com and put in your full name, and you will see your phone number, current home address, previous addresses, your social networks’ addresses, and much more. Also, spokeo.com and whitepages.com are not the only one; there are many others. It is actually very easy to stalk someone in the U.S. This is why I wasn’t feeling safe. In Europe, it isn’t like that, especially with new rules regarding the information on the internet making it harder for hackers to obtain and sell data on the dark web.
I was incredibly shocked when first I saw all my private information—and others’—on the internet. I was confused as to where people were getting this information. From U.S. government websites? Are they targeted by Ukrainian, Russian, or Chinese hackers, or is it just someone in the U.S. government selling the information to big, private data-selling companies that are collecting and selling data, —because it is legal in the U.S. somehow? With this, there are so many instances of fraud coming up. People are scamming your phone with fake numbers or sending you fake PayPal emails from overseas, trying to buy your stuff from Craigslist with fake payments from fake accounts. You can even find an app to show you where the cops are on your GPS, and also you even can listen to what they are talking about. I also think to show where cops are and listening to their radios should be illegal.
However, all of this information being has a good side, too. I mean, not a perfectly good side, but at least if some number calls you—not a company number but some personal number—you can just Google that number and see who the owner is. For every single number, you can see who that person is. Yes, you can do that in Europe, as well, but not for every number, and there are only some specific websites you can use—not just by Googling it and getting the info right away. In the U.S., your email address is being targeted too. Last time I checked my email address on haveibeenpwned.com, it said I had been at least six times! Can you believe that—6 times? This is how easy it is in the U.S. to have your personal information stolen and sold online. Those big companies either sell my email address to other users, or they were targeted by some hackers with amazing skills. These are massive companies that shouldn’t be easy to target, but back doors are constantly being found.
Also, you can receive fake mail that shows you owe money to some government agency or someplace, so they will ask you to write a check or money order, yet it’s all fake. They are not even real business, and they are not even located in the U.S, so I don’t know how they run this type of fraud.
However, in Europe, you are more secure than in the U.S., either online or in real life. I don’t know the reason, maybe because the U.S. is targeted more or maybe because the U.S. gives much more freedom to access data—maybe European governments are just better at protecting citizens’ data. Until last week. The European Parliament voted last week to interconnect a series of border control, migration, and law enforcement systems into a gigantic, biometrics-tracking, searchable database of EU and non-EU citizens. This new database will be known as the Common Identity Repository (CIR) and is set to unify people’s records. In the U.S., the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation run similar biometrics databases, which are targeted by hackers regularly, and so far the U.S. government hasn’t done a good job of protecting data, so how will Europe’s governments perform?
My hometown is Istanbul, Turkey, and I had believed my country was doing an awesome job protecting citizens’ data, but even that gets targeted and hacked. In 2016, nearly 40 million citizens’ data was stolen, but of course, there was no official statement about it. So, I can’t give you any source for that, but you can just Google it. e-Devlet (meaning e-Government) means the provision of government services to citizens in an electronic environment. At this point, it is aimed at delivering state services to citizens in the easiest and most efficient way, in a high-quality, fast, uninterrupted, and secure way, but it seems like it wasn’t secure enough.
I know we are living in a battle between technology and privacy, and my personal guess is that tech will win.