They are watching you. You should be paranoid.

Your data is the currency. Your privacy is your power.

· privacy,privid,power,GAFA

"If you have nothing to hide, why are you so concerned about your privacy?"

The above (or some variation of it) is an argument I have heard many times when discussing online privacy. But, here is the aspect of it no one thinks about: it's not just your privacy at stake. It is everyone that is connected to you on social media, all of your contacts on all your mobile devices, and even on your various computers. In short, everyone you know because of their connection to you has their privacy at stake because of your choices. This was made abundantly clear with the Cambridge Analytica scandal (with the help of Facebook) when they accessed not only your information, but without anyone's consent, the information of your contacts and connections. Did they give their permission? No. 

And, more importantly, did they [Cambridge Analytica or Facebook] face any real consequences? Again, no!

The real thing that someone is saying above, in a passive aggressive way, "you must be guilty of something if you want to hide your personal information". The fact is it really isn't simply your personal information. Is it?

I asked a question on LinkedIn around privacy, here are the responses: 

Pretty evenly split! 

The problem is, as noted above, the last question is not accurate. In point of fact, you may have nothing to hide, and neither may your contacts or connections, but your choice to opt out of any privacy options impacts them, without their express permission. Which effectivley means that when you say "I have nothing to hide" you are also saying, I'm not really that concerned about my privacy or my contacts or connections. I agree, that statement is a bit heavy handed but the point needs to be made.

Privacy in Real-Life

You have a meeting or conversation with someone in the real world, you want to make sure it stays as confidential as possible. What do you do? To keep your privacy in the real world?

If you protect your PIN, protect your credit card number, protect your conversations... you like to keep things private, even though you have nothing to hide, you want to make sure no one gets more information than they actually need from, or about, you. So, why not extend that to your virtual world?

How does this work around the world?

European Union (EU)

In the EU, concerns like these were addressed with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), passed in 2016 and implemented in 2018 it has 99 articles including: 

  • the right to know what data a company holds about you
  • an opportunity to refuse a company access to browsing history and cookies when you visit their site
  • clear responsibility for companies to gain consent for customer information
  • stricter regulations regarding contacting customers and sharing contact details with third parties

Data Privacy is a Right: The Right to be Forgotten clause

The right to be forgotten” is a relatively new phrase. However, the relevance and importance of this phrase increases with every site you visit. Some sites store data, and thanks to cookies and other things, follow your activity across multiple sites. Meaning that the right to be forgotten is important since this allows you to ask the companies to delete and /or surrender the information they have about you. 

What is online/data/information privacy?

Information privacy looks like this:

  • data acquired
  • how data is collected or stored
  • whether or not data is shared with a third party
  • regulatory restrictions, such as GDPR/PIPEDA

Organizations like Google, Facebook and Amazon have profited quite well from your data, and they want you to beleive that they need that specific data. The fact is they do not need that data per se. Yes, they need data, but they don't need the specific identifiers that tell them it is you. An argument could be made for Amazon, but even with that...

The one thing that none of these companies want you to realize is that the data is yours. You own it. They are nothing more than custodians of the data. Their job is to ensure that data is stored properly, and that it only goes to 'trusted' third parties. The question becomes 'trusted' by whom?

Personal privacy vs sensitive information vs security

When it comes to internet privacy, there is personal and sensitive information. They are defined in the following ways: 

  • Personal information - identifiers, such as name, IP address, address, etc. 
  • Sensitive information - very private data like medical records, sexual orientation or political views.

Online privacy and security can overlap, since one can affect the other:

  • Privacy - you want the organization you deal with to keep your data and information secure and private. 
  • Security - this ensures that your data is kept safely away from prying 'eyes'.

The biggest internet privacy issues

As mentioned, internet-related privacy issues exist on a spectrum, from information you don’t mind sharing, to having extremely sensitive information exposed. Let's not forget targeted ads, and Google and Alexa listening in on your discussions...


It is funny, but scary at the same time.

How is our privacy at risk?

Search engines user tracking

Search engines (Google is the biggest culprit) track you across the internet, and if they happen to also have the browser that you use (Chrome) well, they pretty much know evrything.

Search engines can (and do) collect:

  • search history
  • cookies
  • IP addresses
  • click-through history

There are options, duckduck go for search engines. Brave, duckduckgo, Opera etc for secure and safe browsing.

Social media data harvesting

The Cambridge Analytica/Facebook story (in which data was used to manipulate voters), cyber bullying and “doxing” (sharing private information publicly). 

This becomes tricky. What you say online is being used against people. Even things for years ago, regardless of whether your position on that topic has changed, it is there for anyone to find and use against you. Humans forget, we grow, we change, we (hopefully) mature. The Internet, on the other hand doesn't understand that concept.  Unsurprisingly, those opposed (unsurprisingly they include tech giants) argue that it amounts to censorship and could lead to the rewriting of history. But, does it?

Cookies/online tracking

For the most part, cookies are harmless. They are code that tell a website information on your browsing history, which in turn can help the user by remembering:

  • logins
  • identification
  • preference settings
  • ad settings
  • language settings

Many browsers today have the option to turn off cookies, or delete them after a specific period of time, or on a certain action by the user. But that doesn't stop everything from tracking you.

Summary / Recap

You are safe. You are careful. You are just a little paranoid about your privacy... 

The moment you check your phone in the morning you are giving away your data. Before you've even switched off your alarm, a whole host of organisations have been alerted to when you woke up, where you slept and with whom. As you check the weather, scroll through your 'suggested friends' on Facebook, you continually compromise your privacy. 

Without your permission, or even necessarily your knowledge, [tech] companies are harvesting your information, your location, your likes, your habits, and sharing it. They're not just selling your data. They're selling influence over you, and your choices. And it's not just you. It's all your contacts too. 

Digital technology is stealing and selling our personal data. They are removing our ability to choose freely. We want to help, in our way, to reclaim that power, while allowing organizations to still get the information they need. Because the fact is, they don't really need your personalized data. But, they do need the data.  

How can we help?

Privid believes that GDPR and PIPEDA are a great place to start, and we do a couple of things, we work with organisations to ensure compliance with those legislations (and others coming into effect globally). We ensure that they have the "right to be forgotten" option for your data. We are also working on an app to keep on your mobile platform, and your computer to give you more control. The best way is to talk to us.

#privid #data #privacy #information #browsers #gdpr #pipeda #cookies

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