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Do you think your data is safe online?

Online Privacy is a well disguised illusion

An illusion that we continue to get pulled into, in exchange for lucrative convenience.

Have you ever seen your favorite brand advertisement while swiping through your instagram stories? Well because you use the brand and they know your ‘preferences’. But the game changes when your very ‘preferences’ are sold to third party agencies or data harvesting giants like Google, Facebook and upcoming Amazon. 

Ever wondered why you saw a Sushi ad on your Insta feed and creepily remembered a conversation you had about good Sushi restaurants in town with a friend earlier that day. Think about your own scenarios of ads showing up out of your personal conversations. 

A ‘recommended’ ad for hotels in Goa after a few minutes of your flight booking to Goa. A notification from your food delivery app saying “salad time” when the clock strikes 1 pm. Or that expensive watch you searched on amazon popping up on different websites on ‘Sale’. 

There lies a parallel world of data barter between companies and agencies, between Corporates and the Government. More or less all apps and sites are sharing some form of your data with Google and Facebook, simply put. Amidst this trade, your ‘interests’ and ‘preferences’ are bidded upon in different currencies of the world, basis metrics like relevancy and ethics. Yes a part of your behaviour, state of mind is pinned on that digital stock market of advertisements.

Thank the stars for some level of ethical advertising.

We can’t blame them much, as we instantly agree to ‘privacy policies’  at the time of registration without a second thought. This is where we willingly give our data out to be used for any desired purpose. (at the end of the article, we have shared interesting snippets from the privacy policy of some of the biggest and most frequented brands.)

They know it all

Google and Facebook both have acquired & funded a substantial share of large and small sized companies that they source viable information from. And unless you follow their news, you may not know it all. (Example: Facebook has in its kitty Whatsapp, Instagram, Meesho And Google has HTC mobile, Looker, Dunzo in India)

Whether you have an Alexa / Google Home or not, these companies know more about you at any given point of time and can even predict your move using their artificial intelligence technology (AI) on whether you are going to eat a burger or a taco based on your past history and your current location. They know what time you wake up, your breakfast preferences (remember, you registered on the app say Big Basket, using your Gmail account). 

“big data” companies analyse these behaviour metrics to automate and improve the efficiency of their services and the content fed to you. While this practice is purely beneficial, but asking for consent and letting the user know upfront and regularly via emails is an expectation of the investment a user puts in to the business. 

Experience without ads is a premium privilege,

that you only get when you pay. A double edged sword where YouTube now shows 2 pre-video ads and multiple in-video ads on a popular & lenghty video, it pushes you to desire an ad free world. Both ways, the company benefits, leaving the user frustrated. 

And just when you thought that it’s only Facebook, Google and Amazon companies robbing your data, there are names of companies you often use or perhaps look up on.

These may seem like first world problems in light of hunger, water crisis, women’s safety among others. However, data trading and advertisements is an interconnected, million dollar business. 

You can always fiddle with the app settings to prevent excess data sharing with third parties. Sadly, there’s not much you can do on your own. But together, we can demand to be informed, demand to take consent.

Interesting privacy policies:

More reads:

att-location-data-tracking-lawsuit-electronic-frontier-foundation

google-location-tracking-cell-tower-data

these-apps-are-stealing-your-most-private-data-and-it-should-be-crime

facebook-privacy-data-information-ad-settings-how-to-protect

google-admits-to-listening-in-on-private-conversations-via-assistant

10-companies-using-big-data

tech-companies-stealing-data

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