Do you have any idea what happens to the data you share? How can people access your personal information? Why do they do it? The little things you never think about may be much more significant than you think they are. By sharing your data with others, whether it is online or offline, can be dangerous. How can it be risky? First, the companies can use the shared knowledge for their own good. Another reason is that, by getting only a small bit of data from you, they can collect even more data about you. Ultimately, people can use this data to track our every move. Sounds creepy, right? There are many other ways that bad things that can happen to your data, endangering your privacy.
By protecting our privacy, we can keep ourselves safe. By sharing this information with different companies, they can use the data that you share with them for other things, exposing your pictures and data to the world. According to Privacy International, many companies are trying to collect our data because, “knowledge is power, and everybody’s job becomes easier the more they know about everybody else.” They do ask permission to access your data for their own use, but it is likely that they are using it for something else (Privacy International, 2015). In addition to that, a video by Wall Street Journal says, in China by uploading something on a database, “under terms of service that basically allow tech companies to do what they want with images.” Withmore data, the algorithms will become better, and with all the CCTV cameras everywhere, “China has lots of data to feed its algorithms.” China is planning to build 450 million more surveillance cameras all around China by 2020 (WSJ, 2017). By giving your information to these companies, you could be in danger, and people you do not know can see your pictures. But by keeping your information to yourself, you can stay safe without worrying about problems with stolen data. Which means that people will do anything to get your data, because that is how they make money, by looking at your data to get inspiration for new products, the more products they have the more powerful they are. For example, in the video by the Wall Street Journal, they say that Baidu uses our photos “to build a range of products.” (WSJ, 2017). All the databases you use have at least one bit of information about you. But with just that one bit of data, they can uncover some things that you may want to keep secret.
As stated before, some people can find other information about you by just having one small piece of information, for example, having your name. In “The Power of Privacy” by The Guardian, the journalist Aleks Krotoski travels to Las Vegas to meet a professional digital detective named Max Miller. By only giving him her name, Max could find a whole stack of information, from her social media pictures to her addresses. But that was all just “scratching the surface,” says Max Miller. That only took a few hours of work. When sharing your data, you are creating your own digital footprint. “But doing it from the beginning, as you can see when you register that domain when you start creating these corporations, you’re starting that footprint. So, you need to control it from the beginning.” Then Aleks goes to Los Angeles to find Khalil Sehnaoui and Marton Bos, two hackers, finding them to hack into her computer. Khalil sends an e-mail to Aleks pretending to be her director saying there is a “good article on the front page of The Guardian,” when Aleks clicks on the link and logs into The Guardian, Khalil gets her credentials, then he can redirect her computer to a different website. Five years ago, they would do “USB based attacks where we would drop them around parking lots.” By plugging one into your computer, they can take over the person’s entire computer, including recording the sounds that are nearby and taking photos from their camera. “If it’s too good to be true, either in an email format or something you found on the ground or somebody sent you, it probably is.” Says Marton (The Guardian, 2016). One example of a big hack was in 2017, Equifax was hacked, about 143 million people’s information was lost, your identity could have been stolen (James Norrie, 2017). People have been hacking into companies’ data and stealing them for a very long time, and they could have developed new ways to hack into people computers. There are still some errors in these algorithms, so we cannot always rely on these companies to protect our data, we could get into big danger.
On account of giving away your data, not only these things can put us in danger. Alas, people could people could be using surveillance cameras to track where we move, what we do, and who we are with. Therefore, if this data falls into the wrong hands, according to Privacy International, people all over can track us, “letting powerful institutions learn things about us, and wider groups make decisions about us in secret.” (Privacy International, 2015). Hence, if you are against the government, they can track you down, find you, and there is a possibility of imprisoning you. Wall Street Journal says that surveillance cameras in China can scan through big crowds for “persons of interest.” The authorities and some companies can almost identify anyone by just seeing their face using surveillance cameras. Baidu Scientist Lin Yuanqing says, “Basically that means almost everyone who has an ID, for everyone over 18 years old, the government will have your face in the database.” (WSJ, 2017) Consequently, if the government has your name, using that, they can find out more about who you are. But do you know what they are using this information for? It could be used for good or bad, it depends.
Still, people may think that there are machines that can prevent our data from being hacked. As said on Phys. Org, you can protect your iPhone by having a lock on it so that it is not so easy for the government or other people to get into your phone (Bree Fowler, 2016). But on the other hand, people can still figure out your password by hacking into your other devices to find the password. The machines that protect big companies’ data storage are not perfect either, as they can be tricked. According to Privacy International, errors do occur, and ordinary people have been wrongly accused of being terrorists (Privacy International, 2015). My grandma has experienced having someone trick her for money in Hong Kong. Someone called her to say that her son, my dad, was kidnapped and she had to give them money to set him free. Fortunately, she called my aunt and asked her if my dad was kidnapped, and turns it was all a hoax. That person must have gotten her phone number from someone else, and this means we cannot always rely on these machines to store our data.
In conclusion, protecting your privacy is significant, because you can prevent having your private information being stolen by companies. With your information lost on the internet, it can reach people that may harm you. Furthermore, there is a chance of having your privacy “getting hacked”. These things can happen either by accident or on purpose. Lastly, by sharing your information, people that have your data can do some simple things to see your every move. But in the end, it is still your choice to choose whether you want to keep your data to yourself. Even if you choose to share your data, you can just do a few simple things to protect it. By downloading Disconnect, you can see who is trying to track you and even have them blocked. Properly protecting your data can help you realize the benefits of both sides. The next step is your choice.
Disconnect. “Take Back Your Privacy.” Disconnect, disconnect.me/.
WSJDigitalNetwork. “Next-Level Surveillance: China Embraces Facial Recognition.” YouTube, YouTube, 27 June 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq1SEqNT-7c.
Privacy International. “Big Data | Privacy International.” YouTube, YouTube, 12 May 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOoKhnvoYkU&t=2s.
TheGuardian. “The Power of Privacy – Documentary Film.” YouTube, YouTube, 28 Jan. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGX-c5BJNFk.
Fowler, Bree. “How to Protect Your Data and Avoid Being Hacked.” Phys.org – News and Articles on Science and Technology, Phys.org, 5 Apr. 2016, phys.org/news/2016-04-hacked.html.
Norrie, James. “Big Data Needs Bigger Security.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 11 Sept. 2017, 3:55, www.usnews.com/opinion/economic-intelligence/articles/2017-09-11/equifax-hack-shows-why-big-data-needs-bigger-security.