It’s time to fight back. Our data is being used to profit from us, influence us and even trick us. The question is what can we do about it?
Well, we already have a lot of power under the law. We can demand from companies to treat our data in accordance with General Data Protection Regulations and even remove it.
There is a lot more that you can do.
We can start by understanding the contract we have entered into. Is it worth it? Is it fair. We can always opt out, don’t just say yes. We can ask what data is kept about us and complain if it is disproportionate, while we can always pare back the information in our profiles to what we are happy about. We can review these things regularly.
We can understand that we have alternatives to all of these online tools that we are using. They may not be as good, or free but may provide a better option for our data.
We can use a different search engine for example, such as DuckDuckGo. It distinguishes itself from other search engines by not profiling from its users and by showing all users the same search results for a given search term, returning the best results, rather than the most results.
We can buy a newspaper, a free press with strong journalistic principles is a fundamental requirement of a functioning democracy. Quality journalism is not cheap and sorely lacking in our printed media at times. If printed media disappears then there will be even fewer serious and professional journalists about. It is necessary, therefore to pay for papers to exist.
Indeed, we can buy a newspaper we wouldn’t normally buy. According to Jamie Bartlett in his book The People vs Tech – People with the strongest interest in and knowledge of politics are the most likely to selectively interpret information to suit their own biases.
If we must go online, we can take some time out to confuse them by becoming a digital anarchist. Follow someone we wouldn’t normally with different opinions to our own. Poke someone we don’t like. Read something we wouldn’t normally. Look at things that wouldn’t normally interest us. You never know, we may actually enjoy them. Confuse the data image that is being created about us.
Of course we shouldn’t trust anything online and don’t take it at face value. Beware of click-bait, it is there to lure you in. Be suspicious and question everything. We can criticise falsehood. When we come across something that is wrong, say so and make amends.
The balance of power has swung towards the data giants. It is time to fight back!