Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Final Exam: The Good, The Bad, and The Internet

Being born in the 80's, technology has had a big impact on my life. As a sophomore in high school, I bought my first computer and smartphone. Since then, there hasn't been one day where I haven't used the internet to check my email or a social network site, and those rare occasions when I didn't have access seemed excruciatingly long.

As I began growing up with the internet as part of my life, I had many experiences related to it. From building a computer and hacking my phone, to running virus checks and always having to reformat my HDD due to those virus (before buying a Macbook), I became the go to person in my family for technology related problems. While I love the internet and the way it has facilitated modern life, the problems keep surging up as we grow dependent on it.

One example of our dependency on the internet, is Facebook. Even amongst the privacy issues where the FTC got involved, and many users complaining when something is changed, the amount of users continues to increase. Facebook and other social network sites are great for keeping in touch with friends and family, and sharing what you wish, such as photos, thoughts, and your location. Social media has grown so that it now affects politics. Reminiscent of the protest in the 60s is OWS (Occupy Wall Street). They are peacefully trying to bring awareness and change to the corruption that politician are part of. Twitter and YouTube not only allows for the protester to communicate with each other, but it allows the public to see how the government is reacting to it, brutally at times. As a business student, the more I learn about business practices, the more I understand the importance of OWS. Although the mainstream is influenced by politicians, thus influencing many of its viewers, I am glad that I have the internet so that I can choose what I believe in.


While the conveniences brought forth by the internet are large, there are many problems, and a recent problem affecting millions of people is identity theft. It is such a problem that even celebrities have been victims, Bill Gates included. In 2003, about 10 million Americans were victims, and it even cost businesses about $50 billion dollars. While the technology to protect yourself has also gotten better, this was almost 10 years ago when the majority of the population didn't have a smartphone. Now that companies use smartphones to complete transactions, and many people have purchased such things as apps or ebooks on it, it is likely that sensitive information such as emails, passwords, and credit card information exist on your phone. This is scary, more so now that recent news of a unknown program included in many phones that records everything you do and sends it to an unknown location. The company behind this program, Carrier IQ, states "says that the software is designed for diagnostic purposes" but software researcher Trevor Eckhart videoed the software recording each keystroke and phone numbers called on his HTC Android phone. Even if this information is not being sent to the company or the government, it is scary , known or unknown, that it exists and is accessible to hackers.

Although hard to imagine what life will be like in the future, it is plausible that the internet and technology will continue to increase its influence and our dependency on it around the world.