If your phone had a button that said, “Do what I want but don’t spy on me”, you would press that right? But the thing is, that button does not exist.
I’m sure that more 80% of the people who are reading this article have an account on Google, Facebook that drives your social life right now.
But if you are under an impression that all those services that you get from Google, Facebook are free, you’re absolutely wrong.
In-fact you’ve paid the price for it already!
Well, that’s exactly what this post is all about.
Let’s start simple.
Did you know that the most valuable resource in the world until recent years was Oil….But now it’s Data.
This is 100% true. Data has volleyed over Oil as the most valuable resource on the planet.
And its your data that companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon add up together to make your Data the most valuable resource on the planet.
If you ask…
How is my Data Collected ?
Sign Ins :
Apps & Games:
Almost every game nowadays that you play on your smartphones, PCs or even gaming consoles, require signins. You have to sign in with your Google, Facebook, Twitter or any other accounts.
This allows companies to know what games you’re interested in. Whether it be Shooting games(PUBG, Call of Duty), Arcade games(Ludo) or some other genre.
If you surf through any website and want to use any web service the very first step you need to follow is to make an account with the help of your email address. I know signins are necessary but the terms that need to be accepted, are directly related to privacy. This is how these companies know what type of games are you interested in, what type of Google searches you do throught the entire day. Most of the Google searches are directly related to what comes in your mind. So if you look from a counter perspective, you’re letting someone known what you’re thoughts are!, thinking that your thoughts will be private, but somewhere…. at some point, that’s not the case. Okay… movin on…
It’s friday and the weekend’s gonna start. You plan a trip and ask Google Maps for directions. Or you book a cab which requires Location and signin as well. Not just for weekends, these companies track you location with every precise detail that you won’t even notice.
What time do you go to work, what time you come back. Your favourite places to go, favoutire restaurants, your relatives, friends, families.
How much and how often do you spend your time at that specific location, they know everything about you.
Even other Apps & Games nowadays won’t work unless you give permissions.
Have you spent some time with a person you’ve just met and then suddenly you see his/her profile on your Facebook suggestions. You might think that is cool (in fact it is), but again, you’re giving your data without even noticing what’s happening in the real time.
If you have an android phone, you must be familier with the Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa. “OK Google”, “Alexa, …” or “Hey Siri” is what we need to say to activate the assistant.
Obviously it means that your smartphone or the assistant is listening to you all the time and this definitely is something serious.
How can you tell that your phone is NOT listening to you?
You’re discussing with a friend about something and then suddenly some ad appears on your browser or any app showing ads related to the exact same stuff that you talked about. Cool! you might say. I know, but creepy at the same time.
Would you allow someone to listen to almost everything you say. Never. But it might be happening to you without your consent.
You use smartphone, you use apps. Let’s talk about some of the most common apps that you may have come across.
Facebook & Instagram :
Okay. Friend suggestions are the features of Facebook/Instagram. I get it. But these apps also record what your searches are, what type of people you like/dislike, what type of community do you follow.
Infact for how much time a specific post is up on your screen is also recorded by them.
Then you get a personalised content in the name of features but next thing you see, your data is now with someone you can’t even see.
Cute and innocent though it may appear, the feature has become the target of conspiracy theorists claiming that Snapchat’s corporate owner, Snap Inc., uses it to collect facial recognition data which it allegedly stores and shares with law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and CIA.
You take your photos and boom, you’ve already contributed yourself in the most expensive Facial Recognition Database ever.
10 year challenge :
This was a very famous social media trend of the year 2019, where you post your current photo with the photo you took like 10 years ago. This was a booming trend as a result many people posted their photos.
The facial algorithms are so intelligent that they just need to be trained with a few images and they can tell you exactly how you looked or will look in the x years.
What people did was, they simply trained these algorithms more and more. Now, your data…..you know it.
They know your name, your phone number, where you live, your buying habits and, in many cases, what you are interested in buying — sometimes even before you do.
Netflix, Amazon Prime are very useful services. Not going deep, type of movies do you prefer watchin’ adds up on your data list.
Google even know about your Bank account man…. Google Pay!
These are some important stuff that you may have done.
You might ask, some of them are very common things everyone knows about.
Why should I care so much about it?
Well, if you’re not paying for the product, you’re not the customer, you’re the product being sold.
Agree, it is necessary for them to keep a record of everything as well but the thing is, we don’t actually know if our data is just stored or is it used in some other way. We can’t tell. And I’m not saying these companies are stealing our data, but manipulating us in a way that we don’t notice.
European courts have convicted Google for privacy violations. What’s sure is Google monitors Gmail and Google Drive for files breaking the law and reports to law enforcement about criminal violations.
What I’m concerned about is the ethics of these companies and where it draws the line on the extent that it will go to to obtain data. Someone else pointed out that google spends billions on research and development on products, some of which are then offered to consumers at no cost. Based on recent issues with ethics at google, I would like to know from where do these companies get the data to teach its AI systems for technologies that are not yet available or in early development (such as self driving cars, uses of computer vision for military applications, google glass, etc). These technologies require data to teach the algorithms and require extensive QA. But where does google get this data and how are these technologies tested. Especially when the technology requires human test subjects?
The main reason behind writing this article was to create awareness of the things that might be happening. But a good solution here is to give as small data to these companies as we can.
Hare are some measures that you can follow :
Unlike Google, DuckDuckGo is a very private search engine. None of the searches that you do is recorded and you won’t get any personalised recommendations. The search results are amazingly accurate and fast too.
Brave is a browser that focuses on privacy a lot. It is chromium based browser so the look and feel won’t be different and it’s speed is amazingly fast. It is one of the best browsers competing Chrome, Safari and Firefox as well.
I’ve been using brave for about 6 months now and it’s beautiful ! If you want a complete ad free experience then this browser is for ya!
This is a plugin that helps you secure the searches on your browser.
Open Source Alternatives
I’ve always been an OpenSource fan when it comes to softwares.
Here are some Apps I wanted to share that I found over time which I’ve been enjoying a lot.
- Infinity (Reddit)
- Open Keyboard (FOSS Android keyboard)
- NewPipe (YouTube)
- Twire (Twitch)
- Jitsi Meet (Zoom)
- Signal (Messaging app)
- Bitwarden (Password manager)
- Bromite (Browser)
- andOTP (2FA)
- FairMail (Email)
- NetGuard (Firewall)
- DAVx5 (Contact / Calendar Sync)
- Cryptomator (Storage encryption)
- Simple Contacts (Contacts)
- Simple Calendar (Calendar)
- Libera PRO (PDF reader)
These were some measures that you can take to keep your data from being a lot secure than before.
If you need some more information about the stuff I just talked about, here are some links that’ll make you pretty aware.
- Downloading My Private Google Data, this is what I found
- Spread Privacy
- How to Live Without Google
- How your cellphone spies on you
- World’s most valuable resource in not Oil anymore
So! Hope ya got to learn somethin’ ! Keep your data safe guys.
For more, visit our website Zero gravity at zerogravity.cc.