argument top image

Should we abandon online privacy?
Back to question

People value privacy in real life, so they should value privacy online

People expect to have privacy in the offline world. We do not want people we do not know to have access to our houses, passports or mail. Therefore, we should bring this same sense of cautiousness to our online activity and fight for online privacy.
(1 of 2) Next argument >

The Argument

People have reasonable expectations of privacy in their own person, house, vehicles and business offices. They also have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their personal communications such as telephone calls, letters, and journals. Moreover, if a person needs a key or password to gain entry into a space, whether it is physical or electronic, there is also an expectation of privacy in that house, for example, cell phones, bank safety deposit boxes, lockers and luggage. If society worries about privacy in their physical lives, staying in control of their privacy online is every bit as important.[1] As more of our lives are led online now, society should be drawing the same boundaries in our digital lives that we have in our physical lives. Just as you may not share your paper bank statement with a distant relative or colleague, you would not want them to access your online banking app on your phone. Thirty years ago, somebody would have to steal your private mail to access personal information, but now it can take just a few minutes to hack into someone’s email account. Similar to our physical lives, society should define what information we want to be private to whom. We should consider what we want to remain private among our family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. Since there are inherent vulnerabilities online (like the outside world), society should also consider online security with the same seriousness we apply to locking our home. People should have the right to privacy both in the real world and online, so online privacy should not be abandoned whatsoever.[2]

Counter arguments

Many websites, which millions of people use, collect our data but they are not using our personal information for any bad practices, and are typically using it to improve customer satisfaction. For example, Google, one of the services which has been the most caught up in debates over online privacy, only analyses browsing history so it can display advertisements that are the most relevant to the specific user.[3] Amazon uses personal data to analyse our shopping habits to recommend products that we may find interesting.[4]Another platform which has been dragged into this debate is Dropbox, but they only analyse user's files so that they can perform de-duplication, which reduces their storage requirements and thus allows them to offer customers free space.[5]Therefore, society does not need to be as protective of their online activity as they are in the real world because these online platforms are not using personal information for anything that should cause concern. Online privacy can be completely abandoned because we should not be concerned about the way sites our using our personal information.


[P1] Society cares about their privacy in the offline 'real' world. [P2] Therefore, society should care about their privacy online as well, especially as people can access our private information and data.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Many online platforms which have been accused of 'stealing' our personal information are not using it for any bad practices, but typically use it to improve services they offer to users. [Rejecting P2] Therefore, there is no need to be as protective of our online activity as we are in the real world.


This page was last edited on Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 14:54 UTC

Explore related arguments