Privacy - Why all the hype!

Why does protecting your data matter so much?

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As a global citizen, my preferences on how my personal data is used in the outside world when it comes down to things like using social media platforms have drastically changed. On one hand, as much as the internet has made our lives easier, I cannot help but think if everybody realizes how important data privacy is, now that we are operating most of our lives via our phones or computers!

So why all the hype?
Why does protecting your data matter so much? To put it in simpler words, there are two types of data- one is publicly available data- for eg data that government collects as a part of the census- name, age, etc. This is data that is publicly available. And then there is private data, which includes your Aadhar Card number, Employee ID, Social Security, etc any combination of data when obtained, can not only be used against your will by malicious actors but also can be a way to achieve monetary gain by a lot of big data companies.

The Reality!
The open secret in the industry today is that companies are built by exploiting our data. Ever experienced this: you are talking about perfumes with your friend, and the next thing you know, all your social media platforms start showing you advertisements for the same perfume? In the advancing world of big data, media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other big companies have the ability to collect information about you. They can track data like who are you friends, with, knows your interests based on the clicks you make, the profiles you’ve visited. Media platforms have this really weird ability to track user’s behavior and browsing history. This data is collected through your device, google searches, and things you like, post, share on social media.

Take the Facebook Cambridge Analytics scandal for example. According to the investigation, personal data of around 87 million users was obtained without their consent! Another one happened in 2018 where Facebook revealed that a hack in September allowed attackers to harvest millions of phone numbers and email addresses. Among 30 million affected users, 14 million had had their names, contact information, and sensitive information, such as their gender, relationship status, and recent place check-ins, exposed to the attackers.

The Free Web!
A web of where everything is free, we pay for it through our privacy! Social media platforms generate majority of their revenue through selling targeted advertising based on data mining the information that us users willingly or unwillingly share. Yet the same companies go to great lengths to argue that they are not “selling” users’ data, where history shows otherwise!

Unfortunately, nowadays, privacy is no longer perceived as a right, more as a privilege that’s not accessible to the majority. I still want to keep my hopes up! After all, in a world where we are completely technologically dependent and driven, there has to be a way where I can still keep in touch and share things with my friends, and family without worrying about its implications.


Ruchi Parmar

Information Security Engineer - Cyber Security Enthusiast, coffee and wine nerd, Social Introvert.