Personal data, or how to sell our life (editorial)

The democratization of technology in our lives has reached a phenomenal scale, which only some authors would have allowed to imagine before. Smartphones, Artificial Intelligence, Electoral Rigging & #8230; What place to give to personal data?

The Facebook flaw

Facebook, the largest social network in the world, has once again shown its weakness and the state of vulnerability in which it puts its users. It is indeed with this flaw that he left, that the giant of the web has exposed the personal data of billions of individuals. The worst was avoided but the fault is still huge. It took more than a year for the social network to realize its mistake.
The breach that had been quietly installed in the "Preview my profile" feature since July 2017 was discovered in September 2018 and allowed any hacker to take control of nearly 50 million accounts, thereby opening the door to all networks connected to Facebook with the "Facebook Login" button, and thus giving access to billions of personal data. If this case ended without apparent collateral damage, Facebook does not know if accounts were used for malicious purposes, an investigation has been opened by the American authorities.

The business of personal data

This is no longer fiction and we know that personal data on the internet is a big challenge. Whether for political parties, for businesses, or for the GAFA giants (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), all are addicts to our personal data and the harvests of these are increasingly precise and intrusive . The collected data can be sold between services, without the user having given his consent, or knowing the purpose. This data business will be a market of more than $ 187 billion in 2019, according to the latest IDC study, an analyst on changing technologies and industries.
While some advocate the usefulness of data collection to better understand users, the fact remains that this juicy business is not without risk for them. It also raises ethical questions about the right of ownership of our personal data, namely our privacy.

Personal data at the service of companies and their users

The major players will keep repeating, personal data are an asset in the design of innovative products and in anticipating the needs of users, so as to fully meet them. It is a thesis that can, indeed, be well defended, as much by the companies as by the consumers. Take for example the field of connected objects, the evolution of these tools, related to artificial intelligence working with data collection, has improved the lives of many people, especially in the field of health.
Another case, the collection of data by Google allows him to constantly improve its products, thus making them constantly in accordance with the changing needs of its users. Thanks to a collection of precise data, Google can for example know which button is the most used in its search engine.
Even if this kind of data remains quite arbitrary, this is not the case for all the data collected. Some practices tend to expose our private lives, which can have very serious repercussions.

Personal data to better handle

Cambridge Analytica is the best example of the flip side. The company, hired by Donald Trump's campaign team in the US presidential elections, has collected personal data from 30 to 50 million people.
Under the guise of academic research, Cambridge Analytica created a "thisisyourdigitallife" application that offered its users a fee to answer a personality test. Access to this application required a Facebook account to log in, allowing the company to gather as much information as possible about its users and their Facebook friends.
These data were then used to influence voter choice through targeted promotions. The information thus collected has made it possible to produce typical profiles of people to influence. What no longer believe in the impartiality of the next presidential or European elections!
A Chinese proverb says, "There is little more than the color of our panties they do not know"

Keep control over personal data

Fortunately for us, tools allow us to bypass the collection of personal data, or at least limit its impact. This is particularly the case for DuckDuckGo or Qwant which do not track their users, unlike Google. This is also the case for Okuna, the social network in the pipeline, which wants to respect the privacy of its users, unlike Facebook, whose almost 95 % revenues are linked to the sale of data.
As for him, the European Parliament gave us a nice gift, by adopting in April 2016 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This ambitious text has been in force for less than a year and is only applicable in Europe. Strict rules are defined there: from now on it will be necessary to obtain the consent of the users to collect their data and this in a clear way, while defining clearly the purpose of the collection. This 88-page document provides a right to portability of data from one service to another, and introduces fines for non-compliance. Procedures for non-compliance will now be easily triggered by citizens.
The best solution is still to realize that the Internet is a place where the right to forget does not exist. We must limit the information we transmit and learn about their purpose

The vision of Aldous Huxley

In the end we can only thank the famous visionary Huxley for having portrayed, in 1932, a vision as close to our society as it is today. Aldous Huxley said in his book Le meilleur de monde: "the contours of a perfect dictatorship. Conditioned individuals would have the illusion of being free and fulfilling, but would actually be put into a submission system through excessive consumption and distraction. " This is exactly what society is striving for with the data market, among others, and with the implementation of a bespoke world. A perfect world ... where we are the product.

Read also : Spam on mobile phone: how to fight

About the Author

Romain
Romain
I am very interested in technology, music, environmental issues, and various other subjects. By developing the Current Trends blog, my goal is to share with you my knowledge, my discoveries and my tips on the various subjects that fascinate me. Leave me comments, it helps me to improve myself and it makes me happy: D

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