September 28, 2017 | by Alexian Chiavegato

HTTPS Protecting User Privacy, Guaranteeing Authentic News, and Fighting Censorship

The Verge moved to HTTPS to protect user privacy. Wikipedia switched to HTTPs to fight censorship. And The New York Times made the same change to guarantee authentic news. So why is HTTPS so important for publishers and why is the media making this migration in mass bulk?

User privacy is a major concern for anyone that wants to guarantee access to information to anyone, anywhere. Without HTTPs, a government, public wifi or anyone particularly interested can collect information on the sites that a user is visiting, which can be very revealing about the personal and intimate details of a users’ life – and in some countries and circumstances can be life threatening.

The implementation of HTTPS protects user privacy so that people all around the world can look up articles they are interested in reading without the threat of privacy compromised. As Buzzfeed states, “We want LGBT readers in Uganda to be able to learn about troubling developments in their country without exposing themselves to authorities who are likely sniffing their web traffic.”

Aside from user data security, HTTPS is an important measure to prevent cybersecurity issues that have recently permeated the Internet. HTTPS encryption is one means to prevent users from being infected by malware that can attack a user on an unencrypted site.

Additionally, in a world of “fake news” that we discussed last week – HTTPS can guarantee that a user is accessing the authentic web site that they intended to visit without any data being compromised in between. The padlock in the address bar will guarantee that a user has reached the authentic site – and is consequently receiving a genuine news article.

HTTPS, also, has served Wikipedia well as means to prevent whole countries from censoring data on their site. Without, the HTTPS encryption – data was intercepted by countries so that users couldn’t access available information on Wikipedia pages. In fact, according to Harvard Magazine – Harry Potter actress Emma Watson’s Wikipedia page could not be accessed in Iran in 2013. The move to HTTPS has forced countries to either block the entirety of Wikipedia or not to block it at all but the ability to block certain articles or content on the site has been removed.

Protecting user personal information, right to authentic news and complete information has proven to be a major reason for publishers to shift to the more secure protocol. Some other benefits to the media includes that Google will rank a publishers site higher if they are HTTPS compliant, resulting in higher traffic to a publishers web site. Technology that enables site speed to be faster is also available on HTTPS – faster load times keep users on a site and keeps users coming back to the same site, time and time again.

These added benefits to HTTPS show that looking out for users’ personal security and protecting the integrity of the publication brand is the same vehicle that promotes customer loyalty and ultimately dedication to the media brand.