Connection relies heavily on the internet, making the term “digital privacy” increasingly important. Digital privacy is the provision for the use of the internet and connected devices without the user’s data and information being compromised. 

In November 2020, a data breach that included a UNB server was listed for sale on the dark web. This server contained the emails of UNB students and staff, and the unencrypted passwords to the emails. 

Many students and faculty were shocked to learn of this breach, but UNB’s IT services maintained that UNB accounts were not directly affected. However, passwords for any accounts and services connected to a UNB email, such as logins, have been leaked.

Most websites are inclined to include a privacy policy to protect themselves from any lawsuits. The privacy policy usually pops up when a user is signing up for an application, prompting them to either agree, or disagree, with the policy. 

On January 6, 2021, WhatsApp updated its privacy policy to include a clause that forces users to share information with Facebook if they want to keep using the application.

The announcement of the new update saw many users uninstalling WhatsApp and moving to more privacy-focused messaging services, like Telegram and Signal.

For some, changing applications is not so easy. WhatsApp is especially popular among Indian and African international students because of its low call rates which make communication with their family in their home country easier and cheaper. 

“WhatsApp is my main source to message and video call my parents and brother,” said Bhavya Pratap Malhotra, a third-year Business international student at UNB.

Abhiraj Nikam, a first-year Software Engineering international student at UNB, would like to switch to another app, but is unable to as many of his contacts still use WhatsApp.

“I would like to change to one of the other apps, but everybody on my contact list uses WhatsApp, so changing to a new app will be practically useless,” said Nikam.

Nikam says that the privacy concerns have always been there, but that very few people actually take their time to read the privacy policy, and even fewer care about their information being shared.

“People should have basic knowledge about the privacy policies of the apps they use. We are slowly going into the digital age, and the majority of the population has a mobile phone. A lot of private information is stored in our phones, information that is shared when we use these apps. Privacy is very important,” explained Nikam.