Technology continues to develop, but does the tech industry really understand the power of data?
Big data has been cast as the latest pariah within tech, and considering that big players like Google and Facebook have built their ad businesses on audience and user data, albeit with the renewed interest among regulators and consumers on data privacy, no one wants to declare their use of big data anymore.
The Cambridge Analytica data scandal made global news last year for harvesting personal data from Facebook profiles without consent and using it for political purposes. It was a watershed moment in the public understanding of big data. Google has also come under scrutiny regarding their “right to be forgotten” policy, which invites claimants to request links to irrelevant or outdated online information to be removed, but they adjusted the policy after being inundated with requests.
The tech industry knows the value of data, and they’ve done a great job in usurping individual data as their own and monetising it into hundreds of billions of dollars. Rather than asking whether the tech industry know the value of data – since they have been extracting billions in value from data in recent years; the question is, do individuals really know the value their own data holds?
Sharing personal data can help economies, as well as improving our online experiences. However, using information without consent is a violation of privacy to many. Despite this, many of us share our data for a price online, even sharing the most intimate details of our lives, though it’s unlikely to net anyone an early retirement with the average person’s data costing around $0.083. Yet for major organisations, this user data can help develop and create more accurate information when selling it across to third parties.
With 50bn devices expected to be connected to the internet by 2020, that’s a lot of data stored on the internet and set to grow exponentially. This means that not only will our favourite websites receive more data from us to sell, it also means our value of personal data could increase. Thus, end-to-end encrypted platforms are even more crucial for keeping users’ most intimate details private.
The future of communications surely lies in enterprise-level security for consumer applications – where users can be sure that there’s no way their private conversations with friends and family can be hacked.
With the recent news that Google have been hit with a record fine to the tune of €50m by France’s data protection regulator, CNIL, for violating the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, we can anticipate that the scandals and disputes so far are only a drop in the ocean in comparison to what is to come.
Developments in tech are certainly progressing, and there are many tools and services in the market designed specifically with the purpose of helping companies to remain compliant, but it seems that in cases like Google, there are still major corporations yet to fully understand the power of data, or more importantly to act upon it responsibly.