Nothing on the Internet is for free

Private personal information on your posts has become great business for companies and governments. (iStockphoto)

Some platforms and social networks don’t cost money, apparently, but users end up paying with their personal data

Governments worldwide and companies of a wide range of fields keep the personal data of millions of internet users: their likes and interests, their political views, their economic situation, their health status…

It is practically impossible to surf the internet without any web or app that asks users for some kind of information. In fact, personal data has become the most valued currency in the virtual world.

When we connect to the internet in a cafeteria, when we comment on a video on Facebook, post a photo on Instagram or look up what the weather will be like this weekend… Internet servers and website are collecting information.

With each and every “post” and “like”, social networks collect information on its users and their interests. (Oli Scarff / AFP)

Social networks, digital newspapers, forums, apps to buy online … You do not have to pay to register on any of these platforms (at least not with money).

However, the companies that provide these services ask for something in return: our name, our age, our civil status, our place of residence, our tastes and preferences …

This information may not seem very important, but it is very useful and valuable for marketing managers and professionals. Thanks to these details, they make decisions that is of great value to them: in a political campaign or when promoting and advertising their products.

How to control traffic data?

The collection and sale of users’ personal data is a problem that concerns the authorities a great deal, because it can mean a violation of the right to privacy.

The European Commission want citizens to have control over their own information, therefore laws are set to protect Internet users and punish companies that use user information without their permission.

Facebook faces a millionaire fine because it has allowed the filtering of its users’ personal data. (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)

One of the main problems is that when users on a social network or digital service wish to leave the platform, many times they cannot erase their data and businesses continue to use them.

The new data protection laws intend to help Internet users delete their data if they leave a social network. But this isn’t an easy task because the digital universe has no borders and the information is spread from one country to another without control at all.

Besides, just a small part of its flaws are discovered and most of the complaints made by users never receive are never answered. In the internet world, tech giants such as Google, Facebook or Twitter are more powerful than any government.

Translated by Chaplin’s Languages | Find out more in Junior Report

 

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