Main Difference Between Digital Privacy and Digital Security

Can you have one without the other? Let’s find out…

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Arun Kumar is a 14 years old teenage boy and my neighbor. He has a happy family including his father, mother, and sibling sister. His father, Mr. Varun Kumar, has a strict personality. The kind of personality Indian fathers are famous for. 

Arun is both lucky and unlucky. 

His father cares for him and is always ready to protect him. Once he even smashed a boy who regularly bullied Arun. 

But Mr. Varun does not believe in the concept of privacy of teenagers (for obvious reasons.) Arun does not have a separate room. He is not allowed to have a phone. With his father, Arun has all the security in the world but not an ounce of privacy. 

Now you understand the difference between privacy and security?

Being digitally secure means no one is able to steal your data. Being digitally private means no one is able to observe your online activities. 

Real-Life Examples of Digital Privacy vs Digital Security

Fact #1: Google is a trillion-dollar company. Every year, it spends millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars to ensure malicious actors cannot hack Gmail accounts. 

Fact #2: Google was once found to be scanning the content of their users’ emails without their knowledge. 

You can conclude from these two facts that Gmail offers you digital security but not online privacy. 

There are many other examples of that. 

Facebook is not best known for respecting people’s online privacy. But since Facebook has the best software engineers on the planet, it is quite difficult to hack into someone’s Facebook Account. Good security, poor privacy.

Big tech companies usually offer services and tools that are digitally secure, but not private.

Can you have one without the other?

It is possible that you are digitally secure but not private. You saw examples of this in the above paras.

But, it is not possible that you have complete online privacy but you are not digitally secure.

You ask how?

If some malicious actors are able to steal your data then surely they can also observe your online activities. It is easy to hard to break into someone’s security but easy to observe them. 

What did we learn from this?

Online privacy and digital security are related but they are not the same. So, whenever using a digital tool, ask yourself not one but two questions:

  • Is this tool secure to use?
  • Does this tool respect my privacy?


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