Why do I care about Data Privacy?

Imagine being watched 24x7…or being told What to do? What to wear? What to buy? Where to buy it from etc etc. I would definitely not like to be in that kind of a situation. Once in a while we all enjoy posing for selfies and posting them on Facebook or Instagram -‘Me having breakfast’ or me doing this or that … brief moments of vanity/insanity which make me feel like a superstar but having said that, I also want my moments of privacy and anonymity. I expect to be able to surf the net, buy and sell products online, chat and interact with friends and family. Come to think of it, these are not earth-shattering demands. These are simple expectations of a law abiding – tax paying citizen.
Unfortunately, even these simple demands are ignored and trampled upon. We are constantly monitored. The ‘Big Brother’ watching us is now the smartphone we carry in our pockets or the browser installed on our laptops. Our movements on the street, browsing habits on the net, likes , dislikes, hobbies, friends, photos, music selection…there are no limits on the data being collected.
If the government were to issue an edict to the effect that ‘every citizen is to share this information by 1000 hrs tomorrow’ there would be riots and civil unrest! When the same information is collection covertly through our smart phone and browser we do not protest!
This information is now used by multi nationals to further their business interests. We are bombarded by ads based on our ‘preferences’. It is supposed to make our browsing experience better but it is also making the MNC - a handsome profit. Today I have been reduced to the status of a product. The Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft of the world have ‘graciously’ taken over the task of ‘educating’ me - the dumb, indecisive, ignorant human! They are selling my information to their business partners and making money out of it – a lot of money.
I am not happy with this situation. I am sure millions of others who have realized this are also looking to end this data-piracy. It is this desire that drives me to try out / e / . I want my anonymity, my exclusivity back! I want to be free!


Imagine wat for example insurance companies will do with all these data. Everyone has something to hide!

I’d like to quote DuckDuckGo on this:
“Privacy isn’t about hiding information; privacy is about protecting information, and surely you have information that you’d like to protect.”


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I fully concur with everything said here. Yay DDG!

However, I’m not sure this is an effective sales pitch.

While a general unease with the spying is settling in tor most people, most people are just going through life, and what does it really matter that Google knows where I was yesterday or if Zuck makes a few invisible bucks from my activity? “The companies don’t seem to be doing anything with the data that overtly hurts me as long as they work to reduce ID theft and political meddling.”

It is hard to explain to people why they should give up the benefits and spend time & money avoiding the spying. There is a lot of discussion at /e/, and elsewhere, about how much spying there is. But not many concrete reasons for an individual to take action now. Explaining it often seems to sound like the conspiracy theorists and paranoid doomsayers. I fear that Manoj’s reference to Big Brother may be received that way.

We need to get better at making the case that the simple existence of this data is a tangible threat. Sure, Google may still be making a sincere effort to not be evil, but that data WILL be controlled by other entities in the future. Google/Facebook are exceedingly efficient at building state surveillance technologies that China and others are leveraging. Armies of brilliant people are creating the means to hijack our attention, rather than solving societal problems.

Targeted advertising has created a very toxic stew indeed.

OK, back to the sales pitch. What should it be?

Employers are already using this data to select candidates for a job, it even can be a problem if they don’t find enough data about you.

The companies sell the data. Banks an insurance companies are buyers of the data.

Do you want the private sector to know what your political opinions are? Do you want insurance companies to know the medical history of your family members? Do you want the state to know where you stand politically?
And what about governments and corporate business knowing everything about peoples sexual preferences?
All reasons to take action. Datamining is a threat to freedom and democracy.

The most known examples Facebook and Google will have to change their business-model: Facebook can no longer be “free as in beer”, gratis. Alphabet (Google) will have to be cut up in different corporations and also for Google: some services will no longer bee free, gratis.
The only free alternative is a decentralized web.

Thanks pjmbraet, that is just the kind of dialog I was hoping to stimulate. We all run in different circles, and the people in mine don’t get it.

You make a good point that it can hurt you if you don’t have enough personal data in the public sphere - like potential employment. I don’t know how to react to that. Privacy protecting efforts like /e/ could actually be hurting people is some perverse way.

I agree that FG should not be “free as in beer.” I have believed for a long time that the targeted advert model is corrosive.

The obvious answer is no. But many people don’t seem to believe those are really going to happen. FB and Google are making statements and running adverts reassuring the world that they won’t let these things happen. I guess I’m proposing that the community help Gael and the foundation to document real world, personal, near term reasons to care.