A large amount of the concerns regarding privacy stem from the collection of data and what the companies that collect it use it for. One of the biggest reasons for companies to collect your data is to better market products and services to you. This often means selling that collected data to marketing firms, who will then be able to target their market (you) much more effectively.

Many people find the trade-off worth whatever the data collection company is offering, and think that the personalisation isn’t so bad anyway because they see ads they are actually interested in. No way they’d fall for it either. While this is a rather shallow outlook to have because of the reasons discussed here, this article isn’t about that.

Your Data Is(n’t) Safe

Talked about at great length is how these companies keep your data secure. It’s true that most companies will go to painstaking lengths not to lose data to outside sources, though they certainly don’t prevent all leaks. A quick search online will reveal frequent losses of user data from many big tech companies that most people trust or use without question.

Stopping bad guys from outside the company getting into the data is all well and good, and crucial for the profitability of the organisation. Reputation and trust is on the line, and that data collected is a gold mine that other organisations usually pay dearly to access. But the question remains: who is able to see this data while it’s “securely” stored?

An Inside Threat

A friend of mine once worked in the marketing department for a big company that is basically a household name around the world. He was given access to the entire database of customers so he could better do his job as a marketer. This database included among other things, their full name and date of birth, their pictures, and their home address. Indeed it did make his job easier, but what if my friend had developed some malicious intentions? Why was he allowed to know enough about these people to steal their identities, or show up at their homes?

Until that point, I had always thought the information being stored about me was done so in a way that would protect me from malicious parties. It’s disturbing to think of the kinds of people working at these companies with direct access to knowing where their customers live.

Just how much do you trust the companies collecting your data? Their hiring process? Their disciplinary process? Who has seen your photos, knows your interests, and the places you frequent that you don’t advertise on social media? You’ll probably never know.

The only courses of action are to accept the risks for the sake of convenience, or to opt out of as much collection as possible. I know which one I’m taking.
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Categories: Education