Recent concerns have been raised over the safety and security of your personal information online after accusations of private data sharing between 9 US technology companies including Google and the US government.

The amount of information that we share online is growing rapidly; many of us frequently share important aspects of our personal life online unaware of the potential consequences of this. The increasing popularity of social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many more has led to a rise in the information we post online. This includes photos, phone numbers and other personal details. Many people rarely stop to consider the affects this can have and who can view their personal information.

It has recently been revealed by an Ex-US National Security Agency (NSA) employee called Edward Snowden that the US government filed secret court orders in which US technology companies were made to hand over mobile phone data, emails, pictures and social media accounts. The NSA’s classified programme called PRISM reportedly allows the government to collect virtually limitless amounts of information from companies such as Facebook, Google and Verizon. The US government has confirmed that the programme exists and claims the programme is necessary for national security and counter terrorism.

It is also reported that the US has accessed data of individuals in the UK, China and other countries that the multinational companies operate. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague was forced to respond to allegations about a secret US spy programme Prism and the idea that Britain’s GCHQ had used information from the programme which could evade the law. The foreign secretary stated that UK intelligence agencies acted within the law and any data sharing was necessary for national security.

This has led to concerns about the privacy of your personal details on the internet. A group of more than 80 human rights groups and internet companies have launched a website called www.StopWatching.Us has called on US Congress to launch a full investigation. Also The European Union has sought reassurance that Europeans’ rights are not being infringed by the US surveillance programme.

Anything you or others post on the internet leaves an increasing digital footprint. Many people and businesses are becoming more and more concerned about the availability of their personal information and the online reputation they leave on the internet. This includes the visibility of personal details to organisations who may wish to collect their data for business purposes and also what potential employers or other unknown people can access.

Businesses have also started to consider the affects that their digital footprint can have upon business sales and brand image. Negative press can quickly become viral and affect your’ businesses online reputation, alerting companies to the importance of a portraying a positive online image. This growing business concern has made many businesses consider their online reputation management and the importance of carefully considering what they and others post about their businesses.