Why you must be concerned about third parties collecting your data

We readily share our data knowingly or unknowingly while using third party services on the internet. People don’t really think much before giving third parties the permission to share and process their data.

First, any collection of data puts you at risk, because data can and will be leaked, stolen, exposed, mishandled, etc. It will be used in ways you can’t predict, and you might not be aware of what is out there.

Identity theft is a common threat. Bank Accounts, Credit cards, loans etc. under your name

Another common threat: What is legal today, may be illegal tomorrow.

You may live in a democracy with rule of law today, but that also may be gone tomorrow. If there is a permanent record of your views, activities, and contacts in the past, you may be judged for them along the rules of tomorrow.

To quote Snowden’s book: “Once the ubiquity of collection was combined with the permanency of storage, all any government had to do was select a person or a group to scapegoat and go searching – as I’d gone searching through the agency’s files – for evidence of a suitable crime”

Misuse by employees of companies/agencies that collect your data.

Ex-Googler Allegedly Spied on User E-Mails, Chats this is just one among many examples

Your data will also be used in the future in ways that the average Joe can’t begin to predict today. People who uploaded their photos to Facebook in the late 2000s had no clue they would later be used to create and perfect facial recognition. Even if they had, they wouldn’t have been able to predict that their FB activity would be used to perfect this.

A leaked confidential document prepared by Facebook that revealed the company had offered advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability, such as when they felt “worthless,” “insecure,” “stressed,” “defeated,” “anxious,” and like a “failure”.

Here is the source for the above paragraph

We have one more example

Leila is a sex worker. She goes to great lengths to keep separate identities for ordinary life and for sex work, to avoid stigma, arrest, professional blowback, or clients who might be stalkers (or worse).

Her “real identity”—the public one, who lives in California, uses an academic email address, and posts about politics—joined Facebook in 2011. Her sex-work identity is not on the social network at all; for it, she uses a different email address, a different phone number, and a different name. Yet earlier this year, looking at Facebook’s “People You May Know” recommendations, Leila (a name I’m using using in place of either of the names she uses) was shocked to see some of her regular sex-work clients.

Here is the source for the above case

Now imagine the same thing happening with a journalist’s secret source. Or a dissident from a country with less than stellar respect for human and civil rights.

With enough information, Your data can be used to build a psychological profile of you; What do you like, why do you like it, how do you feel, where are you vulnerable, etc. Just like computer systems, our brains are vulnerable in shared and unique ways, and those vulnerabilities can be exploited through manipulation. In other words: what you are exposed to can change how you think or behave and that mechanism can be weaponized.

We will end this with another quote of Edward Snowden

“This, to my thinking, actually represented the great nexus of the Intelligence Community and the tech industry: both are entrenched and unelected powers that pride themselves on maintaining absolute secrecy about their developments. Both believe that they have the solutions for everything, which they never hesitate to unilaterally impose. Above all, they both believe that these solutions are inherently apolitical, because they’re based on data, whose prerogatives are regarded as preferable to the chaotic whims of the common citizen.”

Post Author: Kshitij Vengurlekar

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