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Personal Data Collection: A Threat to Data Security & Privacy

Posted On March 18, 2021

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by admnorthfield

When the word internet first surfaced and made headlines in the 1980s, people were trying their best to wrap their heads around the brand-new technological invention. The internet was being dissected to critically analyse how it functioned and its impact on human lives. It seemed like the dawn of a new era.

Since then, the internet has evolved so profoundly. It has seeped deep into our lives and has become an inseparable part too. We’ve transitioned from accessing the internet only through computers to carrying mobile phones in our pockets with an internet connection.

The gamut of features the internet exhibits is mind-blowing. However, speed and ease of information transfer are two features that best encapsulate the modern-day Internet.

Data Security and privacy neglect

Many of us probably did not envision internet taking over our lives to an extent that data security and privacy are compromised. Tech giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple & Reddit that have made it big in the space, hold our personal information with them, to which they get access as we interact with the platforms.

Social media platforms allow us to network with people from all walks of life and put a condensed version of us out there for others to access. But in the process, most of us fail to realize that we are also compromising our data security and privacy by giving the power to use our information to their benefit.

Internet cookies – the means to data collection

The entryway for companies into our personal information is through internet cookies. Traditional internet cookies are a chain of text that get saved into your computer’s hard disk when you visit a website. For the world wide web to function, internet cookies are very essential as they perform basic activities like remembering that you have signed to access multiple websites, retaining items in your online cart etc. While traditional internet cookies might not seem like a major threat to your data security and privacy, some are designed to perform roles like online behavioral tracking and storing valuable data.

Advertising on social media platforms slowly replacing traditional advertising?

Traditional advertising does not offer the benefits of digital advertising. Digital marketing and advertising have been on the rise ever since the user base of social media platforms increased to a seemingly high level. Globally, over 3.6 billion people use social media, and the number is only projected to increase to 4.41 billion in 2025, according to a report by Sprout Social. A mammoth user base such as this is viewed by most companies as a valuable pool that offers a game-changing personal data collection method to analyze factors influencing consumer behaviour and interests. Marketers can tailor-make ads specifically to cater to consumer desires using such granular data.

In a recent interview, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple equated data collection by tech giants to “an act of surveillance”, implying that personal data protection is crucial and consumers should not be deceived of data collection. The infamous Cambridge Analytica data breach and Facebook’s role in it revealed how our data is being traded for money leaving no room for data security and privacy. The rise in personal data protection issues has raised questions against social media platforms and their accountability to consumers.

Social media platforms and tech giants are being held severely accountable by the users for personal data protection and make transparent disclosures if the data is being used for any purpose. The organizations collecting data have also come to realize their responsibility in handling data that does not violate ethics and have begun taking measures in the direction. Now more than ever, government intervention and regulation to enforce personal data protection is crucial.

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