Data in 2019, more valuable than oil

In a previous article, In Defense of Privacy, I wrote that we should not fetishize privacy, we should demand privacy. While I stand by that, we run into the issue that most of our privacy is degraded and put at risk because we willingly and nonchalantly provide our data.

I’m as guilty of this as anyone else so what can we do? Is it possible to get our data back? The short answer…no. In an interview with Bloomberg in September 2018, Brittany Kaiser formerly of Cambridge Analytica put it simply, no.

“If you were on Facebook before April 2015, you’re never getting your privacy back. That data has been copied and proliferated around the world so many times without any due deligience, any tracking or traceability on a technology level that there is no way that there is no way you will be able to erase all of that data, you’re not going to get it back”.

So what do we do? Similarly to debt, the best way to start to get out of debt is to limit and if possible stop spending. With data, we can limit the amount of data we provide moving forward and in terms of social media, limit the number of people we “friend.”

There is also the issue of our data being hacked/stolen from organizations that we should be able to trust with that data, i.e., government, banks, and hospitals. Where what happened with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica could be seen as a case of TOS (Terms of Service) manipulation. There is an expectation that the data shared with banks, hospitals, credit card companies, and the like are protected at the highest level possible.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Almost daily, we see reports of data breaches that target companies storing user data instead of individual users and instances of companies leaving the data unprotected or unencrypted or selling that data for profit.

“The Biggest Security Breaches of 2019, so Far.” 2019. The Kim Komando Show. 2019.

Missing: FDNY Hard Drive With the Medical Records of More Than 10,000 People

DMVs Are Selling Your Data to Private Investigators

Round-Up of Crypto Exchange Hacks So Far in 2019 — How Can They Be Stopped?

And yes, the issue of data protection and privacy are a major concern in the Cryptocurrency space, especially with increasing government demand for KYC (Know Your Customer) policies.

But what can be done? We must demand our elected officials step up and do more to protect user data. It is also essential that companies be held accountable for data breaches and data theft by internal employees.

For our part, some actions we can take:

  1. Use companies, apps, and programs that use clear terms of service with opt-out options for data sharing and that provide confirmation in writing our data destroyed when requested.
  2. Unless required for the situation at hand, do not provide private information such as social security number, address, birthday, or family information.
  3. Utilize programs like Google Voice to get a phone number that you can give out that is not your actual phone number.

These are only a small sample of the tools we can use to protect our data moving forward. It will require some forethought on our part, and unfortunately, that is what we have to do.
We are raised to be honest, and when someone asks a question, we should give an honest answer. But that honesty and openness are used against us by corporations who have no such sense of openness or transparency, so why should we give them the same consideration?

In 2019, Data is more valuable than oil, and we need to guard our claim.

“The Biggest Security Breaches of 2019, so Far.” 2019. The Kim Komando Show. 2019. https://www.komando.com/tips/584393/what-to-do-after-a-security-breach-2019-round-up.

2019. Gizmodo.Com. 2019. https://gizmodo.com/missing-fdny-hard-drive-with-the-medical-records-of-mo-1837109038. Cox, Joseph. 2019. “DMVs Are Selling Your Data to Private Investigators.” Vice. vice. September 6, 2019.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43kxzq/dmvs-selling-data-private-investigators-making-millions-of-dollars.

Young, Joseph. 2019. “Round-Up of Crypto Exchange Hacks So Far in 2019 — How Can They Be Stopped?” Cointelegraph. Cointelegraph. June 18, 2019. https://cointelegraph.com/news/round-up-of-crypto-exchanges-hack-so-far-in-2019-how-can-it-be-stopped.

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