Personal Data Privacy: start off 2017 on the right foot

New year new start. What a great opportunity to start it off on the right foot and greatly improve your behaviour and overall awareness on the personal data privacy subject. You will feel great and you will start breaking the chain!

As discussed last time we talked on the matter, our personal data privacy matters a lot, and yet, it is being violated more and more.

A quick glimpse at the news tell us the UK and Theresa May are trying to pass a law that will make it obligatory for internet providers to store every user’s history for up to a year (although the text has just been declared unlawful by EU’s Highest Court), or the German secret services are allegedly wanting to decrypt messengers like WhatsApp via the ANISKI project. Mass surveillance is a hot topic, and defo on the rise these days.

Big Deal, I have nothing to hide.

Killing the ’nothing to hide’ argument is probably the easiest thing in the world, so try it yourselves (just for fun) if an idiot tells you he/she has nothing to hide, with this set of decent questions/requests I heard a few folks suggest.

I don’t have anything to hide But I don’t have anything I feel like showing you, either.

So Why is Mass Surveillance wrong?

The thing is, …this is far from new.

As discussed in this series’ first post, people farming, or automated data processing by the likes of facebook, google and the rest is not only something we signed for (by agreeing to the unread and unreadable services’ terms and conditions), but something we have absolutely accepted as THE standard web app model. As in free but far from private.

Examples are countless, but to name only one, feel free to check Über’s latest terms of use update, where you grant Über a worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, modify, create derivative works of, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, and otherwise exploit in any manner any User Content.

Talking about Big Brothers, you will also enjoy those quotes from a Google executive, stating “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it”, or even “With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches […] We don’t need you to type at all.”

In addition, and as stated in a court filing, “all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing. Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient’s [email provider] in the course of delivery.”

OK, so Google is kind of reading your emails, facebook is recording everything you do/post/interact with for ever, and even if you don’t use those services, you are being followed by countless trackers anywhere you go on the web. Not aware of this? Check out the Do not track series, they surely will entertain you.


Any solutions out there?

As clearly stated by Aral Balkan in his talk, regulation, legislation, and ethical design are indeed the answers.

But while waiting for our constitution reps to dump lobbyists and defend our digital rights, let’s do our part.

Let’s do our part and break the chain


Otherwise, happy new year!

Publicly yours.