Between recent data breaches and flat out data giveaways, Data Privacy has never been a bigger topic than it is today. Facebook recently launched a new public relations campaign focused on Privacy, which appears aimed at explaining to consumers exactly why sharing their data is useful. The techniques being employed by the tech giants are reminiscent of the retinal scans and walking advertisements of Tom Cruise’s Minority Report.
How far can and should such data collection, dissemination and targeting go? In many ways, data sharing is very good for the collective. It helps streamline advertisements, lowering costs for advertisers, while at the same time increasing the likelihood that the end user will find ads that are relevant and perhaps useful to them individually, as opposed to ads that target a completely different demographic ending up in their Facebook feed.
On the other hand, such private information collection, sharing and access certainly rings an Orwellian bell, warning of a time where nothing is private or secret.
How important are secrets? Imagine if your thoughts could be read. Walking through life with no filter would certainly create a different kind of social interaction among people. No more biting your tongue. The cat would be proverbially and perpetually out of the bag.
We are a long way from that, but we are certainly on a path were our own personal data is at risk of being collected, stored and shared indefinitely and against our will. The New York Times recently uncovered that a reporter with a mere 550 Facebook friends led to Facebook giving another app the personal information of nearly 295,000 connected (albeit remotely) other Facebook users.
With this revelation, combined with how Facebook admitted it shared data with over 60 device makers and their recent entanglement with the notorious firm Cambridge Analytica, we are finding that internet privacy is currently in a state resembling the Wild West, where rules are vague, seldom followed and only matter if you get caught.
So, how do you protect yourself and maintain your privacy in the age of information consumption? Unfortunately, in many cases, if you want to play in the game, you have to give up some of your privacy. The best thing you can do is to read the Privacy Policies of any company you give your personal info to. It’s important to understand what you are giving up and if you have the ability to opt out of anything. Once you know what you are giving up, you are in a better position to determine if the juice is worth the squeeze.