Somewhere around 1 year ago, I stumbled upon https://takeout.google.com/ and from there I found my mp3 recording from 2012, where I asked google to calculate some basic maths. And that freaked me out! Lets dive into the rabbit-hole.
Protecting your personal information from the web, organizations, or applications. It solely depends upon the user, how much personal information he/she wants to give away. But what is personal information?
We all have heard -
Data is the new oil.
Why is our data being compared to oil? Oil fuels an engine, what does data fuels?
Broadly Data fuels targeted-ads, which is the most important cash-cow for the tech-giants that offers dopamine-driven essential free services. Like Google, Youtube, Gmail, GDrive, GPhotos, Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook.
Google: Have you ever wondered how does Google knows the context of the bizarre thing you search for? Why does Google still offer 15GB of free GDrive storage? and unlimited GPhotos backup? My parents have always taught me when I was a child, not to accept any offerings from any stranger. It makes sense because well chocolates or toys cost money, and when a stranger offers such things for free then mostly it is not for a good purpose. But it seems that we have forgotten that advice and we use the free services anyway offered by some of the tech-giants. And the worst part is, there is very little we can do about it now. Anything we store on GDrive, GPhotos, and all are not encrypted which means google can read and view such items. They are the biggest tech-giant, and they don't read our data, rather they sell our data to other business such that they can trade our attention, and google analyse our data to make their platform better and more personalised for us. [Go to this https://takeout.google.com/ and you will be able to download all your data across all the google services you have ever used, if you have not deleted them. The file that google provides could be very big, but very interesting. Please let me know, if you go ahead and download the data and find anything creepy or helpful.]
Facebook/Instagram: And social-media tech-giants like Facebook is the worst. Few weeks ago, Netflix launched a documentary called The Social Dilemma. Over **dramatic but pretty accurate[Go watch it, if you not]. The short version is, people behind these social-media tech-giants are very smart and using multiple psychological tactics to induce dopamine into our mind, they retain our attention into their applications. The pipeline is pretty basic and self-working, It's called Network Effect(Metcalfe's law). So you sign-up to these social-media sites because your friends are already there, then you start using it because it is a good engaging platform, then these sites take the data to improve their platform more, to retain and bring-in new users, once their target is reached, they will start to monetise their platform. What it means is, now since the social-site has enough users, and is able to induce dopamine frequently into its users, they will now sell your data like an ad-agency to earn money. This ad-based business model is the worst. I hate it. Plus using your data, such apps become tech-giants or get acquired by one.
Amazon: Well, Amazon knows what you are going to buy in the next 6 months, and Amazon is already stocked up. Maybe this is a good thing but recently, 2000 online sellers have filed an antitrust case against Amazon in India. Please go ahead and read the article, but the TLDR version is - Since Amazon has infinite consumer data on what we buy when we buy, the prices we are ready to pay, Amazon has started to sell its own products[Amazon Basics] by analysing such data-points. And since they are a behemoth, they can easily afford to lose money for few years until they gain the monopoly, and that means the sellers/brands would be forced to close or will get acquired by Amazon, and we consumers will have no choice. Well, I firmly believe most of the tech-giants in the current-scenario are trying to achieve monopoly by abusing our data.
And there are many such examples, basically these 2 things, Ad-Based business model and using the money-power, fuelled by our-data to gain monopoly fast, is what most of the tech-giants aim for. And our data fuels this whole process. It is crucial that we become more aware of these far-reaching consequences of our data usage and how these tech-giants use us.
When you are not paying for the product, You are the product.
Atleast the above way I live a decent Ad-free life on Internet, and hopefully the above way I am avoiding some the data collection by the tech-giants as well.