If we were to describe 2016 in terms of privacy, it was neither good, nor bad. It was probably somewhere in between. Just when we thought we won some battles, new enemies emerged, armed with even more advanced weapons.
What is however important is that, slowly but surely, people are starting to be more aware of their ideally innate right to online privacy and are starting to fight for it.
So here are 10 of the most important privacy highlights of 2016*:
- The Pokémon GO frenzy
The Pokémon GO bug traveled fast and faded away just as quickly. Everyone seemed to be out on a hunt around the town this summer, but no one seemed to pay any attention to the permissions they were giving the intrusive app. If you’re still enjoying this game, here are 10 tips for staying private.
- WhatsApp with your privacy?
At the end of August, WhatsApp announced a change in their ToS, by sharing the phone numbers of users with Facebook. Upon doing so, they claimed they were fighting spam and increasing business-to-consumer communication. There is however a hidden way out of this.
- The rise of fake news in social media feeds
In light of Donald Trump’s recent election, many fingers have been pointed at Facebook’s potential contribution. Here’s how to stay safe from the daily cavalcade of alarming headlines thrown in our direction.
- The hidden privacy risks within fitness apps
In 2016, everyone seemed to be sharing on social media their biking mileage, their running route or the number of steps they took in a day. However, it turns out that these apps not only record, but also sell very sensitive information to advertisers. This calls for best practices, as well as privacy recommendations for users.
- Donald Trump’s election
The 45th president of the United States could have a major impact on online privacy as we know it (not that it is perfect right now). Find out Trump’s opinion on net neutrality, encryption, surveillance and other sensitive topics from this link.
- The Yahoo mail scam
It’s been a very complicated year for Yahoo. This autumn, rumor had it that the email service provider secretly built a custom software program to search all its users’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials.
Then, information surfaced that one billion accounts had been hacked in 2013. Difficult times for the company that once refused to buy Google for $5 billion (back in 2002).
- Britain believes in privacy… invasion
This year, the notorious Snooper’s Charter was passed by the Parliament and later received the royal assent. This new law basically gives intelligence agencies access to British citizens’ computers and devices.
Hackers appear to already be exploiting the infamous Snooper’s Charter, by promoting fake privacy solutions to worried older Internet users across the UK.
- Turkey blocks on
It’s been a tumultuous year for digital freedom in Turkey and not only. There have been social media shutdowns, WikiLeaks has been blocked and at the end of the year, reports surfaced that Turkey had ordered ISPs to cease access to Tor.
- A DDoS attack to go down in history
On Friday, October 21st, a series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks caused widespread disruption of legitimate internet activity in the US.
Caused by the Mirai botnet, managed to bring down much of America’s Internet, including sites such as Twitter, the Guardian, Netflix, Reddit, CNN and many others in Europe and the US.
- China’s plan to rate society
By 2020, China aims to build a Social Credit System, which will attribute scores to its citizens, in order to build a culture of “sincerity”, where “keeping trust is glorious.”
To achieve this, private online information will be collected about Chinese companies and citizens in a single place. Those who get low scores will then be denied certain privileges.
Oh, Big Brother, where art thou?
So what will 2017 bring? By the looks of 2016, our hopes are not too high. Wherever the year ahead takes us, you can always count on CyberGhost VPN as your trusty privacy companion. Simply click here and choose your preferred Premium subscription.
*please bear in mind that this list is in no way intended as exhaustive. There surely are numerous other events that could very well have been included in this, otherwise subjective, list.