Digital Privacy: Securing Your Data in the Age of Mobile Devices - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  1946 Words
Date:  2023-01-05


Digital privacy is the protection of an individual's information that is created or used when one is using the internet. To protect this information, the confidentiality of all this data and information is essential. It is exciting to look at the issue of electronic usage, data protection and privacy in this age of absolute dependence on our mobile devices and a when a good majority of conversation and commerce is taking place over some electronic device which has access to communication abilities. There have been many highly publicized instances of data breaches here in the US which have caused all kinds of emotions from fear, invasion, and violation. While we know it is present in our culture, it is essential to look at the implications on the global level as well. Privacy among the citizens is observed among many cultures, however, in countries like Saudi Arabia, there has been some violation of privacy even in this digital era.

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Thesis Statement: The purpose of this article is to discuss the role of privacy in the digital age concerning Saudi Arabia. The paper tries to determine whether Saudi Arabia believes in the right to privacy as a human right, the policies that are formulated to guide and control information technology and citizen communication, and the steps that the US has taken that the United Nations need to adopt. The article also tries to determine whether international bodies should interfere when nations infringe the digital privacy of other countries. Finally, the report outlines various recommendations and solutions to the issue of digital privacy in Saudi Arabia.

Comparison of the USA and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), like the rest of the world, has grown in its dependency on data usage for communication since 2000. Beginning in 2000 there were an estimated 200,000 internet users in the KSA. Fast forward to 2007, and that amount had grown to an astounding 4,700,000. As we look at 2016's usage, we identify that there are 20,813,695 internet users in this country, with 14,000,000 million of those using the social media site Facebook (Alrawabdeh, 45). It is evident that the social media use and overall usage of electronic communication have grown substantially in this country but to compare on a global perspective; you can compare the growth of the KSA to that of the US to see the comparison in contrast.

As we look at the US, we can see a vast difference in the numbers. In 2000, the US had an internet population of 121,869,116 and in 2016 had skyrocketed to 286,942,362 (Przepiorka, Aneta & Agata Blachnio, 13-18). While this is substantial, in comparison for a year over year growth rate, it is not near the growth rate that Saudi Arabia has had. The US had a growth rate between these years of 1.35% while Saudi Arabia had a much higher growth rate of 22.5 %. While this could be related to many things, looking at the culture of KSA may be very important.

Saudi Arabia's History and Current Digital Privacy Rights and Laws

Saudi Arabia has a much different value culture than the US and its growth in this time shows both with internet usage increases that align with the cultural changes. It is essential to first look at the culture
of KSA and how they have perceived electronic communication in the past few decades in parallel with their learning. The Saudi Arabian culture is very heavily based on Islamic theories and religion and has often been noted for its strict conservative views as well as a non-democratic leadership style. The socialization in the culture of Saudi Arabia primarily focused on family and the home, not leading to a desire for extended and immediate communication tools for that outside of your close circle (Baker et al. 36). It is important to note that unlike in the US, which added privacy to the Constitutional governing laws of the country, up until recently there were not any regulations in place to protect the confidentiality of any individual. Privacy in terms of unlawful search and seizure are not heard of in a primarily Islamic culture such as KSA.

Digital Privacy and Culture

This helps to understand the reluctance of social media and alternative communication methods in the early part of the communication era, as socialization was not an essential part of the culture. On another level, relating to the increase of internet and digital communication is the recent lack of privacy that has gained worldwide attention through many breaches of privacy which have been heavily publicized. There are many schools of thought on what should be considered acceptable in privacy, and it appears that culture also plays a substantial role, so when we look at KSA, what has their historical approach been on privacy?

The Saudi Arabian community has traditionally been very focused on Islamic morals and beliefs over that of privacy. Up until recently, women weren't allowed to be independent. Instead, they were required to all times have a male legal guardian, whether it be their father, husband, brother or son. These guardians were to approve of all decisions in their lives including travel, work, schooling, etc. There has also been a long-standing view on punishment for justice, including actions such as amputation for theft and murder for drug trafficking (Alshammari, Tareq Saeed & Singh 24). While these cultural beliefs do not explicitly define the value of privacy in the KSA, they do show an overall cultural lack of respect for others and due process.

This culture has shown two very different sides of privacy. One in which the privacy and decisions of the leaders, in this case, a monarchy, cannot be questioned or investigated by the people without fear of retaliation, and one in which a particular part of the population is not treated as equal humans, thus not deserving of anything, much less privacy. There is also a very different version in their culture that privacy is defined regarding situations such as not entering a home without asking or not exposing certain body parts or parts. While Saudi residents will advise that they have much more privacy in their home country, it is a very different definition of privacy in other areas of the world. When we look at privacy, we can see descriptions in the societal definition, but when we look further at the legal definitions, the gap becomes even broader (Abokhodair, Norah & Sarah Vieweg 56)

As the digital age progresses, we have seen many digital instances that are considered privacy breaches throughout the world. These became apparent with some of the most publicly covered on companies such as Yahoo, Equifax & Marriot. This opened up a whole new world to the definition of privacy as many had identities stolen and their lives turned upside down through a breach of personal information. Not only did this do financial harm to the individuals involved, but it also caused significant damage to the global economy and the brands involved (Shackelford 445).

While these data breaches caused some to have their privacy violated, there was an even more significant impact when societies learned that governments could also be breached causing a threat to their national security. In 2016, 203 government entities admitted to having their information violated; however, this was nothing compared to the WikiLeaks scandal in which they showed evidence that the government was unknowingly watching citizens daily interactions. With the increase of internet and social media sites, it seemed the world's definition of privacy was changing. The word privacy now was defined as "freedom from damaging publicity, public scrutiny, secret surveillance, or unauthorized disclosure of one's data or information, as by a government, corporation, or individual ( 667). It was clear that the definition of privacy was changing with the times, so we must look at the effect on a country like Saudi Arabia, and see the impact these digital breaches had on their culture, politics and legal institutions.

Saudi Arabia has recently been progressing socially as well as in many other facets. They have begun to allow women to drive, among other significant steps, and are showing the desire to become more independent from their financial dependence on oil; however, the possible breach of privacy could cause many different impacts on their societies based on some of their philosophies for improvement. While it used to be a requirement to have signed approval for women to travel, enroll, etc., the Saudi government now has online portals where these tasks can be completed electronically. They are also attempting to become more technologically involved in world commerce and activity. While these seem like reasonable steps for a country to advance, how will the advances in technology possibly harm them as a country and on a more advanced level, how can their jump into the more developed world of technology perhaps put them at political and social risk?

Recommendations and Solutions

The main concern in today's world seen to be on a social level, where the temptation of social media and could cause significant harm to the traditional culture of many in not only the KSA but other cultures as well. The use of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have already lead to public outcries for punishments due to indecency and acts of rebellion. Threats of death and other consequences have been the result of social media posts. On the other hand, there have been many inspirational stories of women that have broken out of oppression due to their ability to post their stories online.

On the other hand, people feel that the progression of the Saudi Arabian community could be a turning point to the progress that they desire to have. This could backfire; however, if many youths are marked as inappropriate due to their social media interactions, thus creating a lower opportunity for positions and since there is an international and historically low employment rate for Saudi teens, there is a possible social media could impede on progress rather than help it. All of these issues, along with the fact that social media takes away some aspects of intimate privacy, could make the effects of social media use in a country like SKA swing either way (Camozzi, Ilenya, et al. 10).

Another way in which privacy is invading the youth of Saudi Arabia is through the recruitment of members to Islamic radical groups. These groups have regularly used social media networks as a significant role in recruitment for extreme Islamic groups (Seierstad E1). While this may not be considered a breach of privacy by some standards, it is undoubtedly a breach for the children's parents to know who and what is influencing their children. These types of extremes have caused political controversy in international relations with the world as well. The violence portrayed is widely disturbing to many other countries and have created for action against the already volatile relations between primarily Islamic cultures and the Western World. While Saudi Arabia may not have a vast privacy breach issue that would make the citizens question its authority, there are many different types of "privacy" in the world today, especially across different cultures. As they start to expand into an electronic age, including allowing electronic visas, they may begin to see that the areas they once controlled tightly now could have some threat of invasion (Clarion Project 2).

While we can see the effect that social media can play on the culture of a country, we have to also look at the national level. While KSA has not seen a tremendous impact from any government breaches, it is a culture that could easily have significant implications if that was the case. The culture is very structured around the decisions of the select few in t...

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Digital Privacy: Securing Your Data in the Age of Mobile Devices - Essay Sample. (2023, Jan 05). Retrieved from

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