Soul Catchers: How IT Giants Become the Largest Owners of Your Personal Information

The more scandals in the world around personal data leaks, the more data is concentrated in the hands of

IT giants. Why do we trust them more and what will it lead to?

Vise of the Regulator and the Magic Wand

A few months ago, Google introducedopensource-tool that allows companies to collect less data about their users. It will enable companies to collect and analyze big data without identifying users. Google says that the development of such a tool is a difficult task and their open-source solution will simplify the work for programmers, protect user data, and help businesses not lose the benefits of working with big data. A dinner spoon, given how many problems a business had with personal data handling.

What are European, what are now American companiesafraid of data leaks like fire. GDPR imposes a fine for unauthorized relations with user data from Europe up to EUR 20,000,000 or up to 4% of the annual world turnover for the previous financial year, whichever is greater.

For the first year of the law, EU authorities received144 376 requests and complaints about the handling of data and revealed 89 271 violations. In total, fines amounted to 56 million euros. 50 million euros fell on Google, the French authorities considered that the company violates the GDPR.

In June, the airline broke a search engine recordBritish Airlines - $ 230 million for the leakage of personal data of 380,000 passengers, among the data are bank card numbers and CVV. According to ZDNet, this may be just the beginning - the regulator has been investigating companies' data handling for several years. Perhaps new records are just around the corner. Companies, in turn, have to completely rebuild their work with data. According to one of the editor’s own sources in the field of microcredit business, it took the company about six months to bring its work in line with the GDPR.

A similar law was passed in California. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will enter into force on January 1, 2020, it is considered softer and applies only to companies with a profit of $ 25 million per year, and the size of the fine is about $ 7500 and only upon evidence of misuse of data.

> Customers from the USA and Europe - a tidbit formost companies in the western world. Business is becoming more and more digital, so even a small cafe in the back streets of Europe with its loyalty program can potentially fall under the scope of GDPR and is trying to protect itself offline with explanatory leaflets. Therefore, Google, with their new opensource project, will come in handy even for small businesses. The more users he has, the better the algorithms will work. And that, probably, less in the future the company will be accused of spying on users.

The secret is in the public domain

On the other side of this story areusers They are also scared. For many years now, personal data has leaked from dating sites, hotels, ticket reservation services, customers of operators and television. Moreover, regularly becomes aware of open access databases. Last year, the Alibaba base flowed into the network with 10 million customers, 2.3 million customers from American Express India, 5.3 million from Nixi Technology, 60 million US voters in the Elasticsearch database (source). The Google search engine knows that it searches for 80% of the world's population, how it does it and how it reacts to the information found. For Google, users are products.

The user already knows that his data is valuable to companies and does not want to share it. You never know what will happen to them. In these realities, slogans of this kind go well.

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“What happened on the iPhone remains on the iPhone”

As well as promises of improved privacy from Google and other giants. Or that they do better than obscure cafes, shops, etc.

Perhaps the most resonant scandal aroundopen data has become a data leak of 50 million Facebook accounts in favor of Cambridge Analytica. The story was originally described in The New York Times and The Guardian about a year and a half ago. It was disseminated by the media around the world and for many months more new facts surfaced. As a result, in June this year, the company was fined $ 5 billion.

Get to know the story around the gatheringpersonal data in Russian is possible in an interview on Liga.Tech with CEO of Cambridge Analytica Alexander Nix. Knicks tells him how the company collected data. Facebook has provided a huge database of information about user preferences. But besides this, she had to do a serious job to collect data about users. Nyx says that they worked with several databases, some of which 4000-5000 data elements per user, tied to his name and contacts. This, for example, a hobby, gender, work, a favorite magazine, a golf club, where the user goes, religious preferences and tastes in food. Then you can only fantasize what else is included in these 4000-5000 elements!

Databases were collected by aggregators. They also contained information about credit cards, loyalty cards, ticket sales systems, social networks, etc.

At the time of the interview in the USA, the opt out principle worked.- that is, the downloaded data is available to companies by default, unless the user indicates otherwise. In the United States, in fact, it is still so, except for California. In Ukraine and in many countries of the world. The EU has protected its users with the GDPR directive. But in fact, the law applies only to those who are willing to handle personal information under the law.

When Apple launched the Apple News + service, wherethe user can read paid publications for $ 9.99, the company, among other things, focused on the fact that user preference data is not transmitted to a third party, and all traffic remains inside the application. Analysts suggest that this will lead to the erosion of media brands and the complication of earnings for them. But what happens on the iPhone remains on the iPhone.

The launch of Instant Articles on Facebook has also becomea headache for publishers - the social network gave priority to issuing materials of this format, and it also closed the traffic within the social network. Even Telegram has its own format for publishing articles inside the service, but here the user at least has a choice on which link to click. And this does not affect the ranking.

When you pay at the store using Apple Payor Google Pay, your payment card details are hidden from the store, so fraudsters are less likely to steal them. They are stored in partial or encrypted form in different places. Each time you log in using your Google account, Facebook and other services on some small dubious resource, you don’t have to worry that it will steal your personal data (unless you specify it yourself somewhere) and use it against you. In the best case, he will, in your “footsteps”, see how you used the site. Data security is maintained by Google, Facebook, etc. They know well what you do on the Internet all day. Even in incognito mode.

Even OLX. If you buy something on this site with the “OLX delivery” service, the company that sends the goods to you does not receive your personal financial data. This information is stored on the platform. It's more convenient and safer, says OLX.

When there is so much news about base leaksdata of airlines, travel services and other large and not very business, you just want to store the data somewhere in a warm and comfortable place where no one will get it. The farther, the more IT giants become this place, because they have more and more convenient tools for authorization, payments, aggregation, etc. Now they are becoming the first advocates of privacy.

Medicine is next

Coming soon to huge data sets of behavior inOnline and offline health data sets will be added. Smart wearable electronics, which analyzes the user's health, develops and becomes a more mass product. Medicine is digitized - remote access to specialists appears, health indicators are already being measured remotely in some places.

Your smart bracelet or watch is not enoughhighly licensed to be considered a medical device. But this does not mean that they know little about your health or are inaccurate in measurements. This means only that regulators around the world (especially the USA) do not want problems because of the new category of devices, and manufacturers do not want responsibility, because medical equipment has other, higher requirements for development and production. Therefore, for now, this is just a smart bracelet or smart watch. Without special expectations from him and without his special protection from the outside world. By the way, he most likely passes his data to Google or Apple, because you want to have access to a summary of your lifestyle?

By the way, if you are going to choose whoentrust the storage of your medical personal data - to an IT giant like Google or Apple or a district clinic - to whom are you more likely to trust? Medical leaks were identified several years ago. In 2015 alone, 253 cases were recorded as a result of which more than 112 million records were lost. Although some of them are related to unscrupulous recycling of paper media, there will be no less problems in the digital world, as the data owners - clients of clinics - show that they do not care who finds out about their diseases.

In the dry residue

After just a few years, companies likeCambridge Analytica would need to collect far fewer databases in order to access the same information as in 2015. We talk a lot about ourselves voluntarily, but much has already been written about this and this is a separate issue. But the thing is that today we are transferring more and more data into the hands of one individual IT company. Google or Apple already know where we are, what we search on the Internet, what and where we buy, what magazines we read, how active we are, where we buy tickets, who our neighbors are, where we work, etc. And the thing is not even that these data can now steal everything together from one place. Although this is also important. The fact is that IT giants have become real catchers of digital souls. If for a couple of years it has been customary to say that a smartphone knows more about a person than his closest partner, now, in fact, they are holding our digital double in their hands. A complete digital double in the hands of several corporations. He will know all our desires, doubts, fears, remember our story better than us, learn how we hold a smartphone, which emoji we send to relatives and what we feel at this moment. This has not happened in the history of mankind. What do you think, which of the scenarios of science fiction films can be realized in the near future?