Paying the Price for our Privacy Paradox: The Week in Data Privacy and Transparency
In this weeks top data privacy news, Mary Meeker explains the “privacy paradox” and how we need to maintain an appropriate balance between user data and innovation. Plus, learn how someone from the UK almost made a quick buck off personal data on eBay. Read on:
Mary Meeker lives in a privacy paradox, and so do we
It’s that time of year again: the release of Mary Meeker’s annual internet trends report. To no surprise, this year’s annual trends report focuses on personal data collection. She describes the “privacy paradox” that we’re all living in: users want privacy, but 79% will give up their personal data for good services.
Tech companies are data-driven, providing us with seamless, customized online experiences, and this addictive activity has caused users to increase their time spent on these platforms. In turn, tech companies acquire access to even more data and the privacy paradox goes full circle.
Meeker explains that as tech companies rise in growth and become increasingly monopolized, regulators must pay attention to the unintended consequences that can potentially arise. While privacy protection is important, it will take some time for effective systems to be created and implemented into our current structure. Still, we must remember Meeker’s words: “it’s irresponsible to stop innovation and progress.”
Personal Data on eBay was auctioned for 99 cents
We talk about the value of data, but do you ever wonder how much people are willing to auction for it? Someone from the UK used Facebook’s export data tool to download his Facebook information and sell his data. He started the bid at 99 cents and within 24 hours, it had 44 bidders that surpassed 300€.
Eventually, eBay decided to take it down, as this violates Facebook’s terms of services. The Facebook user’s ‘flashdrive of goodie’ would have included every like, post and comment he’s made since age 16, as well as his listed interests, his friends list, event invitations and a family tree. Ultimately, the user shares with Motherboard that it was never about the money. He planned on donating the money he raised from his data to the Electronic Frontier Foundation to help with its crusade for digital rights and internet privacy.
Vermont is first to pass bill dedicated to protect against data brokers
If your initial thought wasn’t what in the world is a data broker, than I don’t believe you. Data brokers freely collect information on people from as many sources as possible and buy and sell it amongst themselves and to entities like Facebook for targeted advertising (or at least they did until the whole Cambridge Analytica situation). These companies pretty much do as they please with personal data without any intervention from the government or, anyone at all, really. Until now.
Vermont was the first to pass a bill limiting the power of data brokers under the law. Data brokers are now required to register with the state, take standard security measures and notify authorities of security breaches. The law also indicates that using data for criminal purposes like fraud is now its own actionable offense.
Messaging apps are not necessarily private
These days messaging applications are like our personal diaries. We share all kinds of personal information and details and expect that data to be protected. But in reality, those messages are only protected if the application you are using practices end-to-end encryption. If messages stored are decrypted, third parties can access your messages and use that information to send you ads. (Hmm no wonder why I keep getting targeted with Incredibles 2 advertisements).
Up until recently, most internet users would not think twice about message security. But, times are a changin’, and that means so should the importance of consumer privacy. Maybe it’s time to consider end-to-end encryption as a messaging default. That, or people should be educated on what kind of platform they are using and what that means for their data.
Visa card system crash causes chaos in Europe
Visa is responsible for processing 150,000 million transactions per second. When the system went down last week, millions were left stranded, unable to pay in restaurants, shops, and gas stations. Visa looked into the matter and said “It was a hardware failure, we have no reason to believe this was associated with any unauthorized access or malicious event.”
As more businesses and consumers pay for things digitally, a decentralized network could be just the thing that will provide us with reliability and efficiency. In comparison, Bitcoin’s decentralized network has been functional 99.99% of the time since its inception in January of 2009. Let that resonate.
By: Dari Kreitenberg & Jamie Cheng
Edited by: Natalie Santos
What do you think was the most important data story of the week? Leave us a comment below.
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