Why Does Data Privacy Matter?
The truth is, data privacy matters because data is power.
Scientia est Potentia. Latin. Meaning: “knowledge is power.”
Data is information. Information is knowledge. And knowledge is power.
If you’re not concerned with protecting your data and digital privacy. You should be.
You might be tempted to think, “Well… I don’t have anything to hide. So, I’m not concerned with protecting my data and online privacy. And, since I have nothing to hide, I have nothing to fear.”
This thought process is typical with many Americans and people worldwide, who have grown accustomed to living in our surveillance capitalism economy. But this kind of thinking is ultimately naive and flawed.
Ask yourself if the curtains on the windows inside your home, the lock on the public bathroom door, or the fact that you would think twice before handing your unlocked smartphone to a police officer is because you have “something to hide”?
The much more likely reason is that you do value your privacy. But you are only comfortable sharing certain things with people you trust. Many people don’t associate the same level of privacy preference to their digital lives because online privacy is deceptively opaque yet a relatively new area of concern and has gone unchecked and unregulated since its dangerous beginnings at the turn of the century.
So, How Did We Get Here?
For years, Big Tech companies and lawful and unlawful governments have silently collected, stored, and monetized troves of your data and day-to-day behavioral information. They continuously devise new ways to track what you do, who you know, and what you say. All with the hopes that they can turn all of the information they know about you into power over you. Power to influence what you buy, where you shop, what you think, and influence your political alignments and federal, state, and local voting.
It’s a known fact that the most powerful data brokers aggregate over 5,000 data points of personal and behavioral information on every U.S citizen. The more data organizations can collect about us, the more power they have over us. Our reputations can be influenced based on our data. And, it can also be used to influence our decision-making and modify our behavior in real-time. Data is a tool used to exercise control over us. And in the wrong hands, our data can (and is) be used against us as citizens, causing great harm to our communities, democracy, and our great nation.
Big Data. Big Consequences.
But, when unchecked abusive institutions control our personal and private information, bad things happen. A data breach at a government agency could, for example, put top-secret information in the hands of an enemy state, which could, in turn, risk the lives of our servicemen and women and innocent civilians at large. A data breach at a corporation could put proprietary data in the hands of a competitor. A breach at a hospital or doctor’s office could put your health data in the hands of those who might misuse it. A cybersecurity incident at a school could put students’ private data at risk. A criminal could use that information to steal identities, commit fraud, or target new victims of human trafficking, and nothing can prevent them from re-selling that stolen data again and again.
The bottom line is that data is dangerous. And, privacy is the best weapon we have, as citizens, to ensure that there is a limit on the private-sector power companies have over our lives. And to ensure there is a limit on any government’s power over citizens, whether at home or abroad.
What is the Privatyze Vision for Data Privacy?
At Privatyze, we believe in the power of data. And, we also believe in your right to own and control your data. We envision a world where data is only ever seen or used with your explicit consent. And you are the only one with authority or even the ability to collect, save, buy, sell, or trade your data.
Companies who store users’ data have proven themselves to be untrustworthy stewards of our private information. This is where we draw the line.
Step 1: Discover Your Digital Footprint
Privatyze users will take the first step towards truly owning and controlling their data and digital privacy. They will discover their entire digital footprint and ensure that they know what personal information is out there. Our users will learn how to delete outdated or unnecessary accounts. They’ll be able to safeguard themselves from online tracking, fingerprinting, and data correlation. And keep risky centralized databases from storing their private, personal, and day-to-day behavioral information.
Step 2: Protect Your Privacy
Privatyze users will be able to anonymize their digital lives and online activity. The Privatyze platform offers the tools to hide online activities from browser fingerprinting, block cookies, and other tracking methods. Users can then create profiles that anonymize the various accounts they use online. This makes it much more difficult for data brokers to correlate information they collect across the internet.
Step 3: Own Your Digital Identity
Privatyze users are in control of their digital identity. They can quickly verify their identity, identification documents, credentials, and any relevant personal data about themselves. They can securely store those new digital credentials in their own encrypted, decentralized data vault. Or securely on their own devices. They’re able to create a complete digital profile of themselves that has been authenticated and verified by a third party. Then, our users are then able to collect their data from around the internet. This data could be from anywhere online. Netflix viewing history, Amazon shopping lists or purchase history, or Google searches. Other data points can also be uploaded to the user’s decentralized storage vault.
Step 4: Monetize your Data (optional)
Our users can block all forms of online tracking and will have the ability to anonymize their online accounts. Once they’ve completed these steps, they are now the only ones with the ability to correlate their data from multiple sources and collect it in their own secure, decentralized data vault. They can create a valuable and unique asset that only they can own.
On the Privatyze platform, personal and private information is verified and shared without compromising user privacy, and all data is safely encrypted and stored away or deleted forever. The user decides whether or not they wish to monetize their data. And, they also get to determine what information they’re willing to share and the price they’re ready to sell it for.
What Happens if We Don’t Do Anything about our Data Privacy?
But what if we don’t do anything to reclaim our data and our digital privacy? I mean, how bad could it be, right? If the worst thing that can happen is getting targeted for ads, why should we care?
If personalized advertising was the worst that could happen, we could all sleep easier at night. But, the truth and possibilities of what our future could become are far darker and dystopian.
If we don’t do anything to limit the power of surveillance capitalism, our reality could start to resemble something from science fiction. George Orwell’s classic 1984, The Matrix film trilogy, the Minority Report starring Tom Cruise, or other more modern science fiction creations illustrate what this dystopia could look like.
Owning a Vehicle Could Look Very Different In the Future.
Your driving data, or your failure to provide such data, could impact the cost of your insurance premiums or your ability even to obtain coverage. Missed a car loan, or perhaps your new smart car detects impairment? Your ignition could be disabled.
Tracking Your Fitness Goals Could Prove Disastrous
Your Fitbit data, a company now owned by Google, might be used to determine whether your latest healthcare concern results from your negligence. Or, perhaps you passed the scene of a crime during your last run. Now, unbeknownst to you, you are a prime police suspect. After all, the data proves you fled the scene of the crime.
Your Smart Home Might Be a Liability
Your home security system or smart thermostat could alert your neighborhood burglar to your daily habits or your recent vacation. The airline or hotel you booked for that vacation could be the latest victim of a cybersecurity breach. And suddenly, not only is your data exposed, but criminals might know where you’re going to be and when.
Are You Sure No One Is Listening In?
Your smart TV, voice assistant, refrigerator, or cellphone is likely recording, transmitting, or storing every conversation held within earshot. And, like many Americans now working from home, you’re faced with the possibility that your employer could be spying on your activities every hour of every day and transmitting that data from your work-issued device. Because, after all, they own the device. They’re free to claim the information it collects and stores.
Maybe Your Own Genetic Code Will Be Your Achilles Heel
Let’s not forget to mention your DNA from that at-home ancestry test kit. In a not too distant future, it could prevent your children from receiving medical treatment or obtaining insurance coverage simply based on your genetics. Law enforcement could wrongly accuse them of a crime they didn’t commit. Or perhaps, they’ll learn a dark secret about your family’s past or find out about a long-lost sibling from parental infidelity.
Even Our Democracy Is On The Line
Perhaps, the foundations of our democracy are what’s at stake. Cambridge Analytica has already proven the level of influence that vast amounts of data can have on a population and a democratic election. They turned personal data into a political weapon of mass destruction. And no one has done anything to prevent it from happening again. Citizens risk their freedom of speech and right to protest if we do nothing to take back control of our data and our privacy.
Is This The Future We Really Want?
Eventually, we’ll live in a dystopian world where every action we take will be counted and weighed against us. Playing video games, wasting money on frivolous purchases, or posting false information on social media, could all result in negative points against your “social score.” You could be banned from certain services if you collect too many negative points. Maybe you’ll experience travel restrictions or a reduction in your internet speed, or your children could get banned from higher education. Don’t believe this is a reality we could eventually face? Think again. China’s implementation of a national social credit system began in 2014.
How Do We Get to a Better Future?
There is much that needs to be done. And the mountain we are up against is vast. In addition to this, the work we are set out to do is perhaps the most important work of our lifetime. It is a war that must be won.
We Need to Be Informed
So, how do we get there? The first thing that must happen is an awakening. Many consumers already feel the impact of surveillance capitalism on their daily lives. However, others who may still be unaware are unknowingly part of the surveillance capitalism machine. More and more citizens are beginning to understand the reality of the surveillance world that we have allowed to converge on every aspect of our existence. Privatyze aims to equip citizens with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions. We must educate people about their data and digital privacy and its impact on their lives and the lives of their families.
We Need the Right Tools
Next, we must equip people with the technology necessary to take control of their online footprint and digital identity. Privatyze enables users to discover and protect their digital selves. It makes it possible for them to own their digital identity and data. After this, it’s up to them to decide how to use it. Whether it be aggregating and monetizing their data for themselves, donating their data to research, or simply securing it and safely keeping it away from prying eyes or those with malicious intent, users decide what’s best for them.
We Need to Work Together
Finally, we must organize. We must unite behind a banner of autonomy, privacy, and consent. And put public pressure on the corporate and political powers that be. We must voice our encouragement to legislators to propose, pass, and enforce laws at the state and local levels. And national legislation must be introduced that curbs the ability of Big Tech and other powerful corporations to continue their unbridled data collection and surveillance practices. We must safeguard individuals’ rights to freedom of choice, autonomy, and their right to privacy. And most importantly, we mustn’t ever give up.
We are Privatyze
This is who we are. We are proud to be your digital ally in this world of surveillance capitalism. But, the bottom line is this. It’s up to you. You must be the one who takes the first step of this journey towards privacy. For yourself, your family, your community, and this great country.
We, the People, have the right to our (digital) life, liberty, and the pursuit of our happiness. In addition, we have the right to be free from the tyranny of (digital) threats, both foreign and domestic. And we must stand together to form a more perfect (digital) union.
Join the data privacy revolution. Start your journey with Privatyze, and let us help you take the first step towards a digital life the way you want it.