It’s on the news. A big data breach. Watching the TV, you notice that it is hospital records that have been broken into. Recognizing the hospital, you immediately panic and realize that you are at risk, that your private data is now being used. How would you feel? Scared, of course. Even though Big Data is useful and can innovate many ideas and inventions, we need to protect our privacy. Our data is being used to target people, track people, and it can also be exploited.
One reason you should keep your data safe is because companies can use it to target you. According to Kurt Wagner in “This is how Facebook uses your Data for Ad Targeting”, Facebook does not actually sell your data but can use your data to make money. It shows you ads that based on a profile that you have made, are more likely to click on or more likely to enjoy. Their advertising revenue last year was 40 billion, and with new technology, it’s going to grow more. This shines a light on how companies use your data, and that they might be using your data to make money, or just outright selling it. You thought they were just analyzing your data, right? No, they are actually using it to make money. In “Convenience Vs Privacy: The Latest Study in the Data Tracking Debate” by Andrew Hutchinson, companies can categorize you into a specific group of people that might have the same interests as you. Data scientists can influence your political choice, your career path, and even alter your psychological state. Being in control of what you want and what’s going to happen to you is important, and then companies can easily use that data to sway you to end up choosing something you do not like or do not want. Because companies can misuse your data by using it to categorize and influence things that you should be able to control, you should keep your data private and safe.
Secondly, companies can not only use it to target you, but they can also use it to track you and monitor your life. An example of this is when Strava, a fitness app, tracked down a US military base by using a heat map. According to “The Strava Heat Map and The End of Secrets” by Jeremy Hsu, he states that “Certain analysts have suggested the data could reveal individual Strava users by name.” This data could potentially be harmful and be used for purposes that can target the military. Finding the location of military bases could be used by other countries to launch an attack and harm the US. Also, Wall Street Journal states in their video “Next-level Surveillance: China Embraces Facial Recognition”, that people can use their faces to sign into an office, to get meal recommendations, and even take money out of ATMs. The not-so-convenient usage of this technology is also used to shame jaywalkers or to find people of interest to the government. Photos taken by your own camera can also be of use to the government, as well as China having 170 million surveillance cameras. In China, your data could be used to target you and crack down on you, letting the government track you and use the personal photos you have and also use the photos they have seen of you. Companies are tracking your life right now and now, they can get knowledge of where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing just by security cameras, photos, and facial recognition. This more than ever calls for keeping your data private and safe, not letting prying eyes use it to track you.
Lastly, data can be exploited, such as hacking or other means of data usage that you would not like. In “The Power of Privacy” by The Guardian, hackers can upload files to your computer without your knowledge and also download files off of your computer. This ability can be abused to find compromising pictures which can then be used to blackmail and may be sold. Your digital footprint is very hard to erase, so people can easily find what posts you might have deleted or “erased”, so “sacrifice convenience for privacy.” Your data is at risk of being exploited and at risk of being used for something you don’t want, so keep your data safe. A video “Big Data” by Privacy International details how companies might use your data. Some may use your data and put it into a dataset and use it to find out private things, like your age and income. Also, companies will not detail how they would use your data, so you’re never sure what they’re doing with it. Because of this, you never know, and they could be doing something that invades your privacy or something that could be used against you and exploited. Because our data can be at risk of being hacked or exploited, you should value privacy over convenience.
However, some people argue that Big Data can innovate and make things more convenient. I disagree because companies can use Big Data to actually know who you are and use that information to target you and track you. Also in the same article mentioned above, “Convenience vs. Privacy: The Latest Study in the Data Tracking Debate,” by Andrew Hutchinson, he regards that in a new study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, states that 91% of the people surveyed disagreed with the statement that “if companies give me a discount, it is a fair exchange for them to collect information about me without my knowing.” This implies that although some people think big data is convenient, many customers do not like when companies use their data without their permission for a “trade” for the convenience. Because companies can still use your data without your knowing for convenience, it’s best to keep your data safe and value privacy over convenience.
Keeping your data safe is more important than ever in the modern world. People can use it to target you and potentially make money off of your data. Companies can use it to track you and your everyday habits, tracking your life. Finally, data can be exploited and be used for inappropriate and irrelevant purposes. On the other hand, you can prevent your data being tracked by getting an extension that blocks data trackers. In some of your favorite devices and apps (Facebook, iPhone, etc.) you can disable data tracking and in Facebook, you can view what profile Facebook has built of you and choose to clear it. However, this doesn’t mean you’re always safe from companies tracking your data. Be aware of what companies might be doing with your data. The future is growing, and so is big data usage.