Every day, people are using services like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Youtube and Google to listen to, talk with, and share with others. All of which – from photos to ideas – is processed and filtered for valuable data. What is valuable data? Names, birth places, your mother’s maiden name, your birthday, your favorite music, your address, your credit card numbers, your email, your friend’s emails, your phone number, your friend’s phone number, your opinion on Trump, how you feel about wearing masks, how you feel when you wake up in the morning, what type of phone you have, how many times you look at your screen, what time you finish work, how many people mention you, your ideas on COVID-19, if you ever tried spicy food, if you would consider moving to China and anything else you can think of. With this data, companies like the ones mentioned before compile and create a profile of who you are. Details such as your hair color, your typing speed, how often you copy paste your passwords, where you store them, how much time you spend trying to find anti-aging cream and if most of your purchases are made online. All these things come together in various chunks and fragments and are put together to form your profile. Personal data can be sold for 40$ to 200$ per person, access to take over your social media accounts can cost as little as 12.99$ per service, your banking information costs from 50$ to 200$ and the combination of your passport image, social insurance number and your driver’s license image costs on average 1000$.
These lists are sold to companies for various amounts depending on the completeness and the accuracy of the information which is verified using an aggregate code that tests the potential of the data to be transferred. Some data lists are sold for millions and others are not paid for at all. It can also be purchased and acquired by individuals with no ties to organizations.
Often free data is sent to government agencies that use it to monitor behavior online to search for outliers which may indicate threats to state and conspiracies. This data is then transmitted to all relevant agencies and is used to continuously monitor the internet to develop and form an algorithm which can predict trouble spots on the web and be used to censor, investigate and prevent any perceived threats in the real world and online.
All the data that has been collected on you, is used to create better and new forms of data streams. Creating new and more specific types of profiles based on the improvements and the expansion of social media platforms and apps. These profiles can not only judge whether you are a cat person or a dog person, but they can predict exactly what you are thinking when you visit a site like Twitter. If this seems far-fetched, it’s just because we have not suffered the greatest consequence yet. The complete and total loss of our privacy enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The only way you can protect your privacy from being infringed is by being aware of what you give away, and what the data you give away is worth. To you it might just be a nice pancake breakfast you shared with your “bae”, but to Google, it’s worth spending 7.8 million dollars a year for. Everything you search, everything you type, everything you share and everything you post is being used.
For the government, all of your information can and has been used to suppress freedom of speech, infringe on privacy and create new legislature in order to control what you say, how you say it, and where you say it. If this is something that you feel has no impact on your future, you’re wrong. You are already experiencing the results of this infringement on your privacy and your rights today. You’ve just been convinced that it’s done for the greater good. It is even worth noting that the legislators implementing various laws to suppress critical thought and infringe on your privacy believe it is just and that it’s the right thing to do. Protection against real threats online like hackers is something people take seriously, but you shouldn’t sneeze at the idea that the info collected on you by those you “trust” can do just as much damage to your rights and freedoms. Your freedom, your privacy and your rights are violated daily, and you are facilitating it. Protect yourself.