There is little doubt that, in this era, data is power. Players like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, wireless carriers, content providers, retailers…hmmm, come to think of it, I cannot really find any company that is not head over heels in love with data.
Not that this quest is not useful, it certainly is. The more you know the better you are able to accomplish any number of advantageous things. In this day of intense competition, those with the best data win.
However, there is a dark side and it has been around for a while in various forms. From smart TV’s spying on you to Internet crawlers mining your data to carriers following your every move to the latest Amazon Echo and Google Home, data is flying.
Concern about data is finally beginning to get some attention. Some have been warning about the massive data collection process by everyone and anyone since the beginning and now they are finally being heard. The questioning is starting. Google, Amazon and Facebook, are being assaulted by those who feel their data collection methods are questionable. There are questions over antitrust issues, Russian interference, consumer privacy and device security.
The concern is over the huge amounts of personal data that such mega corporations are amassing, A poignant point is brought up by Frankin Foer, author of the new book titled World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech over the buckets of data these companies are collecting. Foer points out that such “troves of data are portraits of our psyche.”
The scary part about all of this is that the more data collected about you, the more able these players are to affect and alter our behavior.
The argument can be made that we are responsible for our data. In the end, that is true, unless the data is collected without out consent, in one form or another. And therein lies the rub. Collecting private data whether it is wireless or otherwise, has become an art form by the “collectors.” And while their methodologies are legal, if only by a hair, they tend to coerce us, not necessarily by force, but more by wearing us down with endless diatribes in print so small no human can possibly read it without getting a headache or worse, or denying us something if we don’t accept. Yes, we give them consent, but not by reputable means in many cases.
Now let us move on to smartphones. If you try to limit the data collection (location tracking, for example) you get all kinds of “oh my gosh” warnings that other apps may stop working and/or network performance may suffer. These kind of scare tactics are common across just about every segment.
Lastly, what about the security of this data? Everybody says, “your data is secure with us, trust us…” Just ask Equifax.
There is little doubt that this direction is going to continue as is. Data is too valuable to these giants.
In the end, what needs to be done is hold these data-mining companies responsible for the data and require that they let you know, in plain English what they are up to. Not with legalese or doublespeak or the endless droning of redundant micro text. And do not penalize you if you decide not to let them track, mine, collect and store every move you make.
Nothing is that important to me that I must give up my data to have it. You are welcome to my data, but only what I decided you can have.
Ernest Worthman is the Executive Editor of Applied Wireless Technology. His 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, and others. Before becoming exclusive to publishing, he was a computer consultant and regularly taught courses and seminars in applications software, hardware technology, operating systems, and electronics. Ernest’s client list has included Lucent Technologies, Jones Intercable, Qwest, City and County of Denver, TCI, Sandia National Labs, Goldman Sachs, and other businesses. His credentials include a BS, Electronic Engineering Technology; A.A.S, Electronic Digital Technology. He has held a Colorado Post-Secondary/Adult teaching credential, member of IBM’s Software Developers Assistance Program and Independent Vendor League, a Microsoft Solutions Provider Partner, and a life member of the IEEE. He has been certified as an IBM Certified OS2 consultant and trainer; WordPerfect Corporation Developer/Consultant and Lotus Development Corporation Developer/Consultant. He was also a first-class FCC technician in the early days of radio. Ernest Worthman may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.