Latest posts by Alvin Bryan (see all)
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- BitLicense Will Allow Bitcoin Spying in New York - October 22, 2014
- Australians are Fighting Data Retention Laws - October 22, 2014
As Internet users, we learn about a lot of threats. There are thieves and scammers, spies and data brokers. We learn to deal with these threats and make the best of the situation. Today, most average Internet users have strong antivirus and VPN solutions. Lately the news has been focused on the issue of personal data and privacy on online services. Facebook was in the spotlight again because of their mood manipulation experiment. A lot of people didn’t like being used and found it offensive that Facebook didn’t think anything was wrong. The scary thing here is not that Internet companies are breaking the law. They have too much power over our data and they can exercise it in perfectly legal ways.
Everybody Does It
We have become used to companies using our data for marketing and to give us a personalized experience. We have come to accept it as a fair tradeoff for free services like social media and search engines. We don’t want to think that it is bad or dangerous. After all, everybody does it. We believe that it could not happen if it were really a bad thing. And we love using these services so much that we take whatever risks we are warned about. But we don’t realize what is being done to us through the power that we give these companies. Our data is used to manipulate us, and this leads to a controlled experience.
Internet companies are built on the principle that information is power. Google grew from a garage operation into the biggest online service provider by data alone. Facebook is similar, using people’s need for contact to draw them and their data in. We did not realize what was really going on behind the scenes. And we never expected that they could be capable of controlling the Internet. You might scoff, but by controlling what we see online, they are in reality controlling our Internet.
Today we see companies conducting mood manipulation experiments. We know that they have databases full of our family photos and private emails and chats. We feel violated, but we see their power and tend to just be glad that they didn’t do something worse. They have our complete profiles and copies of all the secrets we have ever shared, after all. And we still feel that we retain control over our experience. But we need to realize that the content that we see has already been filtered. We are fed a sample of what is out there, taking away our freedom to choose for ourselves.
Stop the Flow of Data with VPN Solutions and Selective Sharing
These companies have become so big, powered by our information for so long, that it has really become too late to think of making them stop. We want to because we are now feeling the effects of allowing them to take our data. We now know what they can do, and it scares us. But they stay within the confines of the law. All we can really do is either stop using their services or hide our data from them with VPN solutions and careful, selective information sharing.
Online companies, even the small ones, have the ability to very easily collect our data. And carefully worded privacy policies have us giving them permission to use it however they want. We don’t really read those policies in full, and often misunderstand what they really mean. The bigger companies have taken it to a whole new level, controlling what we see based on our data – where we live and hang out, what we read, buy and activities we engage in. The data that we have made available to them is being used to take away the freedom that we should have online. Information should not be categorized and recommended but simple available for us to choose which we want to absorb. We don’t want others deciding for us what we will see and when. We need to stop feeding companies our data by using VPN solutions and by carefully choosing what we share online.