Freeman Cebu Business

Nobody knows you better than Google

INTEGRITY BEAT - Henry Schumacker - The Freeman

Google knows what their users want; Google makes money on this. If you check your personal data, you will be negatively surprised about the details of the information about you known by Google.


Which data does Google collect about you?

Smartphone: Your movements – places and speed, addresses, calls, photos, data collected from different Apps, etc.

YouTube: Search words, videos you watched

Gmail: Your emails, including the drafts you didn’t sent

Search: Search words, links you opened

Calendar: Your business dates and your business trips

Home Assistant: Orders given, questions asked

Google Maps: Your movements, when did you search for what.

It is pretty well known that Internet companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. collect personal data – mainly to sell perfectly tailored advertising information. However, only if you look into the archive of your own life held by those companies do you realize what it really means. In many cases, data will be there about your diseases, your love affairs or your sexual preferences.

The pressure on politicians and lawmakers to regulate the collection of personal data increased after the Cambridge Analytics scandal exposed how our private data is sold to good – and bad – people. It has become clear that we live in a time when there is great concern about individual privacy. The stories about data beaches and identity theft are frightening. Nowadays, a person’s life can be ruined or destroyed by con artists.

So my question is: Why do people give away the most precious resource of the 21st Century: Data?

In 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari explains:

“Even if you don’t know how to cash in on the data today, it is worth having it because it might hold the key to controlling and shaping life in the future. I don’t know for certain that the data-giants explicitly think about it in such terms, but their actions indicate that they value the accumulation of data more than mere dollars and cents.”

We’re in big trouble. Once people are aware of how vulnerable they are when they give away their privacy and data, it’ll be time to give them tools to actually control it. Today we’re not even close to have a solution. Even if many people praise blockchain as the ultimate solution, it still doesn’t solve it.

It doesn’t matter if Facebook says they want you to control your data. That’s an illusion. They offer more privacy options because that makes people share more stuff with them. Real control, though, comes from deciding who can access it, how they might use it and what for. Until you have that kind of control, the problem isn’t solved.

One of the things we can also do is to apply political pressure to make sure tech giants and other organizations don’t do anything weird with our data. But, if the incentives are good enough, they still have the power to make use of it, and make sure they don’t get caught.

That’s not all, of course. The other danger is that the value of data increases over time. Nobody knows how valuable your data will be in 2035. But since it gets more valuable, you better keep it safe and not give it away.

We surely have to realize that we are data subjects and data owners and will have to come up with a system to control data as personal property, but we need the right regulations. That’s what Europe is trying with the GDPR and the Philippines with the Data Privacy Act.

Are you aware about the rights you have as data subjects under the Data Privacy Act? It’s definitely worthwhile to have a close look. If a data breach exposes you, you must be paid by the company that allowed the breach to happen!

Feedback is welcome; email me at Schumacher@eitsc.com

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