AI Ethics: the Importance of Data Privacy and Protection

Nowadays, digital transformation has happened in every aspect of our life, from professional business to personal free time. For many of us, we are getting used to participating in all kinds of online activities and even shifting the focus of life to the online world. 

On the one hand, the Internet is the first thing that comes to mind for most of us when we need to find information. On the other hand, we are consciously or unconsciously sharing our personal information on the internet when we are engaged in all kinds of online activities, such as online shopping, sharing posts on social media, and even just surfing websites.  

We often say that the Internet is a double-edged sword. It brings benefits to us but also hurts us. So does AI. We now rely heavily on AI-powered software. There is no doubt that the technology improves working efficiency and relieves human agents, but one of its biggest potential threats also gets our attention–-the threat to data privacy. 

The following article will list four common risks to data privacy.  

Password Recording

Setting and remembering passwords is always an annoying thing for many people. Fortunately, we have plenty of AI-based software that can help us remember our passwords. Thanks to this kind of software, we will never need to worry about forgetting our passwords. However, does it mean we will never need to worry about losing our password? Of course not

There is still a huge security risk in this password-recording software. If the platforms get hacked by online criminals, or if you lose the devices that remember your passwords, there is a possibility that you lose control of your accounts. 

To enhance data protection, many password recording software also includes two-factor authentication (2FA) technology. In addition to your username and password, the technology adds an extra layer of protection for your account security. Instead of immediately logging in with your password, the software with 2FA technology will ask you to give some more private information that only the real user knows, for instance, answering a question about your childhood experience or identifying your fingerprint. In this way, the technology lowers the risk of losing your account or private data when you lose your password.    

Internet of Things

Internet of Things (IoT) is a popular technology that applies in every aspect of life. The technology links different physical objects in one network with the help of sensors, software, and processing ability. With the help of IoT technology, information on different devices can be communicated and exchanged with high efficiency. In other words, IoT technology helps to make information synchronization more efficient for its users

The Apple devices system uses IoT technology to support its network. For Apple users, you can sync all your Apple devices by signing in to the same iCloud. The advantages are obvious: you can check the documents that are saved on your Mac’s desktop with your iPad, and you can enjoy your pictures anytime with any Apple device. 

Well, in this case, the potential threat brought by IoT is also obvious to see. If you lose one of your devices, there is a potential threat that the criminal who got your lost device can hack all your information in the IoT network. 

Online Payment   

Online shopping has become an overwhelming trend nowadays, especially during the pandemic. We are getting used to and gradually prefer this easy way of shopping, which gives more options with well-designed pictures and provides the chance to return your purchases with the free return policy. However, online shopping requires online payments. 

Most shopping websites will give their consumers an option to let the platform remember their bank or card information. You may recall the same experience of giving your credit card information to countless shopping websites, which sometimes makes you worry about the safety of your bank accounts. 

Website Browsing  

Do you realize that even doing the simplest online activities, such as website browsing, generates risks to your data privacy? Almost every search engine provides the “History” function, helping its users to remember what websites they viewed in case they want to go back to them or re-open the ones they accidentally closed. 

For instance, HTTP cookies are small pieces of data created by website servers since a user opens a website for the first time. They play a significant role in: 

  • Tracking history
  • Learning users’ preferences  
  • Personalize users accounts
  • Improve users’ experience

However, this list of “history” records does not only serve its owners but also provides valuable customer information for advertisers. What you did not realize is that this list is often secretly sold to advertisers, helping them to know the interests of their potential consumers. For instance, most of us have such experience of seeing annoying pop-ups when we go website browsing, and these pop-ups usually do catch our eyes. It seems like these advertisements are personalized for us. 

Protection of Data Privacy–Cybersecurity 

The practice of cybersecurity is an effective way to protect data privacy. The operation of cybersecurity is defined by a series of practices including discovering digital attacks, generating in-time solutions, and predicting potential threats in the future. Nowadays, becoming a cybersecurity engineer has become a popular career goal among both highly educated people and technology-proficient people, and the career has become one of the highest IT professions in 2022, with a $141,999 average annual salary. To see how to become a cybersecurity expert, this AITJ article, How to Go Into Cybersecurity, will be a good reference. 

Furthermore, the companies that develop AI-based software also need to raise their awareness of the importance of data privacy, making sure they protect the customers’ information well, make this task a priority, and promise to never take the information for malpractice. After all, with great power comes great responsibility. 

Contributor

Yifei Zhao graduated from New York University with a Master’s degree in Media, Culture, and Communication. She is passionate about content writing and helping to build partnerships to promote how AI brings benefits and interacts with human society.

About Yifei Zhao

Contributor Yifei Zhao graduated from New York University with a Master's degree in Media, Culture, and Communication. She is passionate about content writing and helping to build partnerships to promote how AI brings benefits and interacts with human society.

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