How to get PII (Personally Identifiable Information) ?
Lets wind the clocks a 100 years back and imagine if someone wanted to know about a person then they would send a scout to that place who would pretend to be a harmless traveler riding into that town, inquiring at the local breweries, getting to know the people in a subtle way to collect the desired information regarding that persons whereabouts. OK my mistake, steam engine had been invented back then so the scout maybe riding on a train also, not necessarily a horse. After he has found out about the relevant information he would travel back and give it to the one who requested it. This usually was a powerful person like a Lord, Leader or a Monarch.
Now when you want to know about someone you only need a cheap cell phone to Google the keywords and you can find out enough. That is how you and me would try to get information about someone. What happened to those Monarchs, Leaders and governments who were sending scouts to get information? Did they vanish or they are still sending scouts? Well they have tools now like gazillion bytes of databases of people, Profiles on various networks, some networks get you jobs, some get you friends and some get you depression ultimately but all of them store your personally identifiable information in a centralized network. From where the owners of these centralized databases let others access parts or whole of your PII for various purposes. Sometimes parts of it to advertisers, sometimes to governments, hackers take it forcefully or sometimes a bug reveals your data. Times have changed before we were tribes and races now we are catalogs maintained and curated by these giant networks. Remember a scene from the Matrix movie which showed humans living in pods and providing energy to the machines like a battery. Well sometimes I see us humans in this way feeding the data to these networks in some or the other way. It’s a grim picture but that is how you get information from a centralized network database which interacts with different third parties to share your information.
The privacy policies, the laws and what not.
The first thing that you do after joining a social network on the internet is to find your friends, colleagues and connect with likeminded people. Of course there are privacy policies and laws enacted by the authorities for the protection of your personal data. We always click on and agree to them without reading, who has time these days for details but then if you will not give time then how will you have time. OK I need to come back to the topic. The point is you are not in full control of your data even if you are not on a particular network. Ever heard of a shadow profile? well it’s that profile which your friends create on Social media when they give their contact lists to networks innocently searching for friends on that network. All stored in some database which you never even heard of and yes there are people who are called internet archaeologists who can dig up the archives and databases much more efficiently then a horse riding scout.
What to do about it?
You can either choose to say “we have no choice over such big organizations and we can’t stay out of touch from the society” or you can say “tell me what can I do to make things better”.
I am not a coder or a scientist but I read the basics about this new Blockchain technology and most of us have heard of Bitcoin (the mother of Crypto). I can’t give you a schematic or diagram with formulas to show how blockchain is the answer to data privacy and owning your identity over a social network but I can say that yes it is the answer as of now. Blockchain is about decentralization where data transfer is encrypted and it cannot be altered by third parties. So when a social media network is based on blockhain technology then it is decentralized and all exchange of data is through layers of blockchain which gives users anonymity, complete privacy and safety. I can give you numerous info-graphics, SWOT analysis to show you how secure and wonderful a social media network based on this tech can be but I would like to end by asking you a question. Why do you think just yesterday the world’s biggest data collector banned all advertisements related to Crypto startups and a month ago another network giant banned them??