Despite OECD Noise, Privacy And Anonymity Is Still Going Strong

By  //  August 18, 2022

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The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a group of 37 countries who have come together to create a forum to develop policy and standards for sustainable economic growth. For over 50 years, the OECD has provided governments with a forum where experiences can be compared and common challenges can be discussed.

The OECD has in recent years put a large focus on the right to privacy for every individual. There is a lot of emphasis put on companies or online sites and how they collect, store and use private information that they have obtained.

A real concern is that we have become so digitized that data can be easily accessed if the proper security systems are not in place. This can possibly lead to private information of individuals ending up in the wrong hands.

The question everyone keeps asking is if it is still possible to stay private and anonymous in today’s digital jungle.

What is Information Privacy?

Information privacy, also called data privacy, relates to the relationship between collecting and distributing data and the privacy and legal aspects attached to it.There are many different data types including;

■ Internet privacy 

■ Financial information

■ Medical records

■ Criminal record

Why is information privacy important?

Most individuals would want to be in control of who has access to their personal information.

Privacy is important because;

■ It gives individuals the power to choose who they share their information with,

■ It protects individuals from fraud by keeping financial information private,

■ It prevents physical harm by not sharing an individual’s location,

■ It protects against discrimination for example keeping medical information private.

The ability to choose whether certain information remains private is an aspect that we associate with democracy and freedom. The right to privacy is therefore a crucial aspect of our society.

Is it possible to stay private and anonymous?

The short answer is yes, it is still possible to remain private and anonymous even in the digitized world of today. There will always remain risks and challenges, but these can be overcome by being smart about the choices you make. 

The OECD has highlighted concern with regards to the safety of data online and their concern is not totally unfounded. In recent years there have been many data breaches where hackers specifically target companies in order to extort individuals or businesses for monetary or political gains.

In 2019, one of the most well-known data breaches was Facebook where 540 million accounts were compromised. 

Although history tells us that data breaches will likely continue, the OECD has clear guidelines that companies must follow when dealing with the personal data of individuals. These guidelines were put in place to promote the correct and secure handling of data and to decrease the risk of the misuse of personal information.

As an individual, below are a few steps you can follow in order to keep your privacy;

■ Use a secure VPN (virtual private network) when browsing the internet.

■ Don’t post personal information such as contact details, home address or location on social media.

■ Turn off all location services on your devices

■ Do not allow applications to track your usage.

■ Read all privacy policies.

■ Do not use generic passwords and change them every 3 months. Do not use the same password for more than one site. A password manager can assist with this.

■ Disable cookies

■ Visit sites with HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure) that uses SSL (secure socket layer) to encrypt communication between the site visited and the browser.

■ Use a virtual file shredder. Oftentimes deleted files can be recovered, but a virtual file shredder uses algorithms to destroy files.

■ Do not give out private information to unknown individuals.

■ Avoid clicking on links and block spam messages. These could be malware waiting to infect your device when you click on them.

■ Double check the website address to ensure you are on the correct site.

■ Keep software up to date with the latest updates.

Of course there are many more steps one can take to increase information privacy. It all comes down to being responsible and selective with your private information. The most important of all is to not panic when a data breach occurs. Companies are by law required to announce any data breaches so ensure to change login details of any account that might have been breached as soon as possible.

What are the most common causes of data breaches?

No one can promise that their systems will never be breached. Systems and sites all over the world are receiving thousands of hacking attempts daily. There are a few common causes that over the years have proved to be an effective way for hackers to access unauthorized data.

■ Weak or stolen passwords – there are numerous computer programs designed to specifically crack passwords. It is recommended to use a password generator and manager to ensure strong passwords for every different site.

■ Vulnerable applications – Hackers will look for vulnerabilities in software to try and exploit. It is therefore critical that software is updated regularly to minimize any security breaches.

■ Malware – Most malware is distributed via email. Individuals often click on links which triggers the malware to run and perform any kind of task the hacker has designed it for.

■ Insiders – These are people usually working for an organization that leaks data to other individuals outside of the organization. Normally this is done for monetary gain.

■ Human error – A person may include the incorrect person in the cc field and confidential data can be distributed in that way. 


Concerns with regards to privacy are valid and criminals can cause a lot of harm when they have access to personal information. It is however still possible to protect oneself and keep information private. While technology can help to secure some information, we also have a responsibility to ensure that we do not give out sensitive information freely on social media.

Other Sources

Rath, D.K. and Kumar, A. (2021), “Information privacy concern at individual, group, organization and societal level – a literature review”, Vilakshan – XIMB Journal of Management, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 171-186.