We all are products in the meantime

Can you ever imagine how your personal data is getting sold in the data Market? A number of third parties know your name, your phone number, your address, your buying habits and in many cases, about your interests –most of the times before you do.

Apart from Google and Facebook, there are a huge number of firms or some companies who deal with data-brokering of people on social networking sites. Unknowingly, we are allowing them to peer into our personal lives. They collect the data that is generated from everything we do online and much of what we do in the real world too.

[1]Acxiom is one of the largest data-brokering firms in the world. This company recorded $1.1 billion in sales last year offering "analytical services" on 144 million households.And it is only a fraction of Big-Data industry. Data generated till now is a $300 billion-a-year industry and employs 3 million people in the United States alone, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Critics says that the common people have no idea about their personal data being up on sale in the market. They argue to open our eyes that having this information one click away could be a privacy risk."The other side of the coin is that important decisions are being made about you, the real you, based on the virtual 'you' that’s made up of all this data," said Sarah Downey, a privacy analyst with Abine.com, an online-privacy company based in Boston. "Decisions like your credit score, your insurance rates, or even if you get a job. And these things are serious, they have serious impacts on people’s lives and sometimes they are wrong."

As a normal layman ,we can never presume the degree of security and assurance of privacy given to us by
any of the online websites while allowing them to capture our personal data.We have reached that point where it is not possible to account the number of companies specializing themselves in collecting marketing data and creating profiles of millions of consumers across the country. Unfortunately ,unlike the national Do Not Call List, which gives consumers a one-stop location to have their telephone numbers
removed from telemarketing databases, data marketing does not have an universal opt-out system till now.
Another way is scammer websites by which millions of people are being fooled. Data is also easily scraped from websites with poor security policies and being sold in a fraudulent manner. Fraudulent websites which resemble the real ones are often set up where the unsuspecting online visitor will generously expose his or her details. It has been observed that there are clones of hugely popular sites such as Flipkart ,Paytm, WhatsApp and Facebook. Even the popular game show Kaun Banega CrorePati has a number of scammer websites which is always ready to swindle money from the innocent online visitors.
[2]After a number of scams, there are some websites which are making money by "deleting the person " from the internet. As we know, Data brokers combine different sets of online and offline data to build a profile of a person.So if you think that your kidney stone problem is known to you and your wife ,then it is totally wrong , all the insurance companies around are very well known to your diseases. Getting expose in such a dramatic way on the Internet may create a thought of vanishing from the internet. This is the time
for many sites to garden their herbs. Abine.com created a subscription service called "Delete Me" that removes people’s information from the web. For $99 per year, they promise to remove all of your information from all data-broker sites. It’s a tremendous amount of work because each data broker site has their own procedure to remove personal information: phone calls, e-mails, faxes, and/or certified letters from the internet. And many times these companies require users to submit more personal information just
to opt out and thus they obtain more personal data from you. Websites like Deseat.me, Wille Dahlbo and Linus Unnebäck ,these are designed as internet deletion site-a place for people to "clean up your internet
presence". Data brokering as such is not illegal but it does fall in a grey zone of security instead. This is mostly because of the vagueness in the legal recourse available in the world of internet till now. More recently, the country has witnessed considerable debate on the privacy concerns related to Aadhar getting linked with almost every governmental and confidential accounts and documents. Though Aadhar link does not mean your data has been leaked. But virtual Aadhar id is the new solution for the rising debate over thismatter.
[3]Data protection in India is governed by provisions of the Information Technology Amended Act, 2008 (ITAA) under Sections 43-A and 72A of the Act. There has been some encouraging talk of bringing in a
Personal Data Protection Bill into legislation, but it may still take some time to come into force.The European Union’s EUGDPR (European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations) is quite robust and prepared to handle the adverse situations.The law states that the liability of a data breach is on the data controller and any person who has been subject to data breach is entitled to compensation from the data controller. In the US, there are some rules and regulations in order to control this scrapes. After the EU, Japan has also taken step by introducing a separate central legislation for protection of data, known as the Act on the Protection of Personal Information (APPI). The Act took partial effect in 2016 and has been
enforceable from May 30, 2017. Much similar to the EU law, consent of a data subject forms the soul of
the legislation and has been stated as mandatory in case of transmitting data to a third party or for any use
beyond communication purposes.
The bottom line is lawmakers, organizations , and individuals need to be invested in finding a solution. In
addition to better laws, organizations should now take the responsibilities to look at the ethical and
accountable considerations in collecting, storing and sharing data in a way that does not compromise the
personal data of individuals and institutions. At an individual level, being more alert while leaving your
digital footprint will go a long way in protecting you.There are several steps like using ad
blockers,disabling third-party apps,auditing social media accounts and not sharing phone numbers and
other personal details randomly can make an individual more vigilant . It is also very important to educate
and raise awareness for the new generation around this topic. A whole generation, that is privacy and
online security aware will not only make us all safe in the long run, but can also venture the nation towards
a culture of building and using software applications online that have privacy and security as a core design
principle.
References:
[1]Morris,Jason.2012.Why big companies buy or sell your data?.CNN News

[2]McGoogan,Cara. August 17 2017.Delete yourself from the Internet .The Telegraph

[3]Puryakayastha,Debapratim.March 22 2018.The dirty world of data brokering.The Hindu

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Radhika Gupta

Radhika Gupta

Reaching towards zenith in your life would definitely take time, but myriad of inspiring gestures in between shall not be shrugged off. ☺