We are living in a technology-driven era where data is of supreme importance. Techies have invented umpteen ways to transfer and store data without it being corrupted or lost. But, the main issue faced by millennials today is regarding data privacy and online security– whether it be personal or some confidential matter related to work.
How secure is our data that we use in various social media platforms, apps and various other online transactions?
Do these online portals take moral and legal responsibility to secure user data or are we constantly being paparazzied by numerous advertising companies and fraudulent persons who use our personal data for ulterior motives.
Data privacy issues in Social Media
a) Historic fine for YouTube
In this context, worth mentioning is US Federal Trade Commission’s historic fine of US$170 million imposed on YouTube in September 2019, for tracking children’s viewing of videos without parental consent in order to deliver targeted advertising, which is against the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Although it is the largest penalty ever levied for the violation of this act, the amount roughly equates to Google’s two days’ worth of profit. More than just a fine, FTC’s order is significant as a social message towards the protection of children’s data privacy.
But, the issues are really deeper than this recent fine and controversies surrounding it. On the internet, new genres keep forming over time through a combination of human as well as technical factors.
The people who post videos on YouTube exploit the search algorithm to make their videos appear on top of the search page and auto playlist. This has resulted in new titles featuring crudely animated, romantic and live-action videos of popular cartoon characters.
b) #DeleteFacebook campaign
In 2018, Facebook got embroiled in a similar controversy involving Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, where they got accused of improperly obtaining and exploiting personal data from 50 million Facebook users. Following this was a #DeleteFacebook campaign, and many people deleted their accounts due to trust issue.
But, Facebook took immediate rectification steps like putting a ban on Cambridge Analytica, reducing data access for all apps on Facebook and informing users about all apps they might have signed into previously. The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg in an interview with The New York Times emphasized the importance of data privacy and how it is the duty of every social media platform to protect the data of users at any cost.
The main characteristic of millennials is that they are not at all concerned about their data privacy. They are very much aware of their data being used by third parties, but being born into such a world where data privacy least matters, they grow up to expect the computer to know everything regarding their location, age, likes, dislikes and other activities.
Many even admire it, because it makes the online transactions more customized and considerably reduces the time and effort taken to search information or get a service that we need.
It’s time to change
The major disadvantage of violation of data privacy is far higher than commercial organizations targeting us for viewing their ads. The amount of personal data that each social media user publishes on various platforms is incomprehensible because it happens slowly over a period of many years and any individual or organization with a vested interest can make use of this data in whichever way they want.
This can create great chaos in individual lives and society as a whole, as was witnessed in the 2016 US presidential election. This reinforces the importance of strict data privacy regulations and technologies that guarantee online security in today’s world.
Data Privacy Day
From 2007, every year 28th January is observed as Data Privacy Day to raise awareness and promote best practices in privacy and data protection across the United States, Canada, Israel and 47 European countries (known in Europe as Data Protection Day).
Although it started as an educational initiative to raise awareness among business enterprises and internet users about the importance of protecting their personal information online (especially in social networking sites), it has expanded over the years to include a wider community.
As the importance of data and means of transferring it in public medium will only increase in the future, it is a resolution that every Government and individual should take, to respect the data protection rights of each person, whether online or otherwise.