If there’s anything evident in today’s digital society, it’s that information is the new currency. An increasingly-connected world means personal data will be the basis not just of personalized feeds, but to ensure things like products and services catered to your needs will be presented to you. If the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal is any indication, information can be used for both beneficial and malicious means – but perhaps all will change soon. If it’s for better or for worse, no one can tell yet.
Netizens In Europe, Meet GDPR
Signs of the shakeup can be noticed if you’ve noticed recent e-mails from services and websites that tell you about “important updates” as to how they use your information and data within their servers. The scope and details may differ, but the point is the same: if they ought to keep their digital audiences, they ought to protect their data better.
In Europe, however, there’s the GDPR or the General Data Protection Regulation. The point, it appears, is to help provide individuals – at least in Europe – with the ability to choose just how their data is used and collected.
Under the GDPR, personal data will only be used and collected under pre-defined and precise purposes. This means services, products, and companies who do plan to use your data will have to be extremely precise and specific as to what they’ll use the data for.
The GDPR also pushes for strict rules on transparency in order to let consumers know just what kind of data will be collected and how they’ll be used, as well as the people this data will likely be shared with. This might be the reason as to how people are now starting to get relevant e-mails on “important privacy updates” from giants such as Twitter and Facebook.
Other important parts of the GDPR include the informing of users if their data has been leaked, and companies are under obligation to protect the data they collect. Companies cannot complicate matters with “legalese” either, as data collection will now be valid if terms and conditions are done using plain and clear language.
Companies too will have reason to follow these rules, as fines up to 4-percent of their global annual turnover can be required of them if they don’t meet standards. While the GDPR is based on European Union law, if you’re a company outside the EU but aim to cater to EU-based audiences, you’ll still have to comply.
The Shakeup: How Did It Come To This?
The shakeup can perhaps be attributed to the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal which brought Facebook into the limelight of a data sharing scandal. After all, data of more than 87-million Facebook users have been shared improperly with Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy firm, which appears to have used it to tailor news feeds with what’s been claimed to be political propaganda.
However, when it comes to questionable aspects of data sharing, and especially ethics in data and privacy, the issue may be much older than anticipated.
For instance, it’s important to remember that data can be easily collected, shared, and copied from multiple sources. CCTV cameras, loyalty cards, phones, browsers, and other digital devices gather personal data not just to help you tailor content to your needs, but at the same time services and products use that very data to make sure their content gets mixed in with what you think you need based on your interests.
This means police, insurers, advertisers, and unfortunately other individuals you may not even be aware of, can access your data for various purposes. For instance, selling your house may tell a prospective buyer something about yourself – do you like a particular style of furniture? What are your cleaning habits? The same can be done to your data and your behavior online.
Unfortunately, when it comes to data, it can be complicated. After all, when you sign up for a service, there’s a need for them to gather information from you in order to make your life as a consumer easier. Most of these are detailed inside Terms and Conditions, but sometimes the full-extent of data usage in this regard is not detailed enough.
Its effects however can be seen on an extremely wide scale – friends you meet and encounter, the news you see, and the advertisements you notice will likely have come from your data. Unfortunately, your data can also be copied, distributed and even sold easier than usual.
Whether or not the GDPR and perhaps other means of data protection are useful are of course questions to answer at a later time.
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