Most people don't understand technology in the slightest. Aside from the current culture of being well-versed in the use of Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, nobody really understands the depth of the information being transferred around inside their cellphone or on their laptop. And nobody fancies knowing that information, either.
A few years ago, there was a large scare kicked up because people discovered that the NSA was spying on us through our computers. Social media became flooded with outraged, new-found political activists who were infuriated that the government could spy on them without any warrant. “This must be a violation of my First Amendment rights.” It seemed as though people were about ready to light torches, pick up their pitchforks, and head right down to the White House to clear up the little misunderstanding. Then, as suddenly as the pitchforks had grown out of nowhere, they vanished in a thin cloud of smoke.
The angry mob was right, for the most part. According to precedent set by the Supreme Court many years ago, the government is restrained from most intrusions upon our privacy, with the exception of suspected criminals under the protection of a warrant. Although there appear to be laws that protect our use of the Internet from organizations and individuals that seek to do us harm, we need to be constantly vigilant in order to protect ourselves because no law can save us from our own hazardous tendencies.
The problem was
Historically, there's very little precedence by which one would judge future actions. Never in history have people had access to such an infinite wealth of knowledge and information that is instantly accessible and carried around in everyone's pocket. Back in ancient times, life was different. Money was a physical item that was kept in banks. People's discussions of private matters were done in private locations. Shopping was done in a store. Now, money is virtual concept, private matters take place on virtual, public sites, and shopping is done from six different virtual stores from China, Russia, and Canada. Any and all information that exists can be accessed from the Internet.
The problem is
The amount of information that exchanges hand over the Internet everyday is vast. Incomprehensibly, unmeasurably vast. “Number of stars in the sky” or “Amount of sand at the beach” vast. And although the government has been prohibited from watching cat videos over your shoulder, your privacy isn't ironclad. Individuals that are well-versed in exploiting inexperience with the Internet are more than capable of doing what the NSA has been told to not do anymore. These people, “hackers” if you will, are relatively safe. The same laws that everybody was pointing at back during the privacy scare have created a number of blind spots in which these hackers can take cover.
The solution will be
This piece is not going to claim that there should be some laws put into place that protect us from malicious persons or organizations on the Internet. The government is hopelessly powerless to save you. Even if they had the authority to pursue them, finding and putting an end to illicit activity over the Internet would be like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles. Law cannot save your Christmas photos this time.
Next, there are companies that claim to be able to create coding that reinforces and protects your computer and your information from phishing, from DDos attacks, and from almost all different types of malicious software. But there's little substance to most of this. The nature of this technology allows it to be infiltrated and manipulated, and there is so little that anyone can do to protect information that you put online.
What I do not want you to take from all of this is that you should create a bunker of solid steel and hide in there for the rest of your life, feeding off of Ritz crackers and EZ cheese. True, it is impossible to stop someone from stealing information that you've posted to the Internet. So, be careful. Don't post stupid stuff to the Internet. People are far too comfortable and too trusting in what they allow others to see about their lives, because they feel like they have control over what is posted. But honestly, once someone posts something to the Internet, they don't own it anymore. Fame is fleeting, but the Internet is forever.