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Why protecting your online privacy is important

Google and Facebook can be very helpful – could you live without either platform? Also, advertising on both can be very effective. But, like anything, they can be used for good or bad. There is a saying by Tom O’Reilly:

If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product

So why should you care about your online privacy? There is a cold war going on between the USA and China. They are fighting for technological supremacy. More wars are being fought with algorithms, less with bullets. Whoever has the most advanced technology (AI, 5G, quantum computing, cryptography, etc.), will become the next superpower. Instead of oil, data is the new dominant resource.

So what does this have to do with Google, Facebook and TikTok? All three have ties to or were funded by spy agencies and ministries of defense (CIA, NSA, etc.). According to Harvard professor Zuboff (author of the book “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism”), tech giants like Google, Facebook, TikTok, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft sell your online data – without telling us.

How much is this data worth? One software engineer estimates one person’s data is worth USD 10,000 per year.

According to Zuboff, there are several reasons why we should care about our online provacy:

  • Tech companies use our data for training models which predict our behavior. They sell these predictions, but to who? There is an example where a supermarket already knew a woman was pregnant before she even knew that she was pregnant (because she used odorless detergents).
  • What data is Big Tech taking from us and what are they using our data for? Zuboff says that they use our images for face recognition models that are used to oppress people like the Uyghurs.
  • Google / Pokemon Go change our behavior without us knowing it.
  • Tech corporations take no responsibility for what happens with our data!
  • Tech giants can predict our mood shifts and profit from them (showing ads for clothes to give our confidence a boost).

This is not about: “I have nothing to hide”. It should be about: “My online data is none of your business!” Want to know more about online privacy / hacking? Check out these movies / TV shows / forums!

Besides not using Google (Chrome / YouTube) or Facebook (Instagram / WhatsApp), what else can you use to protect your data?

  • Firefox
  • Ecosia / DuckDuckGo
  • AdBlock
  • Privacy Badger
  • VPN

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