Graduation Date

Winter 12-15-2017

Grading Professor

Sandeep Junnarkar

Subject Concentration

Business & Economics

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Breadcrumbs: Privacy as a Privilege Abstract

By: Prachi Bhardwaj

In 2017, the world saw more data breaches than in any year prior. The count was more than the all-time high record in 2016, which was 40 percent more than the year before that.

That’s because consumer data is incredibly valuable today. In the last three decades, data storage has gone from being stored physically to being stored almost entirely digitally, which means consumer data is more accessible and applicable to business strategies. As a result, companies are gathering data in ways previously unknown to the average consumer, and hackers are coming up with more high-technology ways to access it. In 2017, half of the 1,339 data breaches — which together exposed a little over 90 percent of the 174 million records exposed — were businesses.

Unfortunately, a combination of the lack of rights surrounding consumer data collection, and the expense or expertise required to maintain personal data has put certain individuals at a greater disadvantage with regard to personal privacy protection.

Of the people who experienced at least one identity theft incident in 2014, at least 4.5% were under the age of 25, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Consumers who aren’t even able to rent a car without an adult can accept terms that give a company access to a large sum of personal data, because there isn’t enough federal legislation to protect their right to it.

Meanwhile, 4.9% of those who experienced an incident had a household income of $24,999 or less. For these victims, proactive efforts to keep devices or accounts secure aren’t a budgeting priority, and accepting free products and services in exchange for data is an easier “yes.”

This project assesses this privilege of privacy. Today, privacy unfortunately isn’t a right given to any American consumer, and it isn’t something that can be afforded by all Americans equally.



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