When it comes to online privacy, women show greater concern than men- so why do they rarely adopt the same privacy protection behaviors that men do?
Our lives are more connected than ever to the Internet. The importance of the Internet extends much beyond all the commerce, news reports, and social media activities which are constantly bombarding us. For younger generations it has become a space to define their subjective identities.
It may sound pretentious, but building an identity on social media is actually a long process and it takes time. People value their subjective personalities as much as they value their public image. This totally contrasts with the attitudes of older generations who have a tendency to share much less about themselves online. Nonetheless this does not mean that younger generations have no concerns about their privacy, what they want to reveal about themselves, and what they want to keep private. As a matter of fact, they care a lot.
What is more interesting is the contrast between privacy and security online with male and female populations. Just like it occurs in everyday life women have a different experience towards the Internet as opposed to men. The subjective space online is not much different than what occurs on the streets. It is a well-known fact that women are victims of 75% of all the stalking and cyberstalking cases. So their attitude towards the Internet is not different that the one they adopt in “real life”.
An article by the New York Times shows how this lack of privacy can affect women. Just by taking an Uber ride the name of an online privacy researcher was disclosed. With her name, and the shirt she was wearing with the name of her company, the guy next to her was able to track her down and write her an email. Her thoughts about this incident, and other similar encounters, is most likely the attitude of many women on the Internet: “You want control over the self you’re putting online, just like you want control over your body.”
Different studies have found that women are more careful when it comes to disclosing sensitive personal details, which can include telephone numbers and home addresses — and considering what we have just discussed, it makes perfect sense. But here is where we find some discrepancies. Even though women are more concerned with their privacy than men, or at least with some of the information they release, they have a tendency to disclose more personal information. This is a clear representation of what is considered privacy paradox behavior. This could be, among other things, due to the fact that they may have a lower online privacy literacy and self-efficacy level.
One factor that does not help women is that online technologies and applications do not actually offer privacy by design. High tech firms rarely consult women on what is better for their protection or the security of their personal data. It is estimated that women hold only 25% of positions in the tech industry, this percentage is even smaller if we consider primer engineering roles.
Although tech companies and government agencies have overlooked women this is not the core of the issue. These two giants can be kept at bay with enough pressure from society. This is at least partially true in democratic societies. The biggest and always increasing threat to privacy and cyber-security is cybercrime. It is no secret that most of the hacks among celebrities, target women. The harassment and symbolic violence women experience at the hands of cybercriminals and black hat hackers does not differ from what they experienced in the real world.
We are aware of these concerns, and one of the core missions of our project is to restore privacy and security on the net. Through the introduction of a technology that can be mass adopted and that respects and safeguards peoples’ personal data and information, technology and ethics come together to preserve human rights and dignity.
We know everyone is not a tech expert, even though some understanding about the implications of a lack of privacy and security is beneficial. For the average individual to gain a proficient degree of knowledge to guarantee a high level of online security, a great deal of time and energy is required, more than what most can afford.
Not everyone understands how the Internet works, but millions have benefited from the openness and information access it grants, even though year by year the Internet continues to lose the battle for privacy and information access. Nonetheless the emergence and presence of projects like ours is proof that steps in the right direction are already taking place.
We, the Deeper Network Team, believe that women should be represented extensively in our community and we would like to hear their voices and recommendations. It does not matter if you approach this as a single woman or as a housewife, as a professional and/or as a mother. Your security concerns are the same. You do not want breaches on your personal data, and that includes credit card numbers, phone numbers or pictures and videos. Everybody wants a safe environment for themselves and their loved ones and not have to worry about sinister and anonymous actors spying on you or your family, interfering with your IoT devices, including cameras and smart TVs.
We invite you to be a part of our community and to help us make the Internet a safe and democratic place that everybody deserves, just the way it was meant to be.