It is sad but true that you are just a number in the data game of the world. If you are anyhow going to be a part of this overstimulated digital jungle, why not be a good catch? Come on, just think, what is something that you have that the big corporations would be interested in? Why are social media platforms free to use? What is it about data?

Why is everyone cribbing about Data?

Data is the oil that is running the digital economy. From the government to your local companies, everyone is tapping the data market more than ever. Industry experts have coined the term “Data economy” to describe the significance of data in today’s world. Uncluttered data is not usable, the data ‘oil’ needs to be refined and structured for it to be used to its maximum capacity. Attention is scarce in the world and whoever gets hold of the scarce commodity ultimately wins. Hence, data and attention is something that is currently essential and social media is tapping this potential well. Social Media Data is the collection of data that refers to all of the raw insights and information collected from individuals’ social media activity. From basic info like your name, age, location to behavioural information like what you like or dislike, and more.

What do big corporations do with your data?

Consumer data is the focus area of its own. It is a big business. Companies regularly capture, store, and analyse large amounts of qualitative and quantitative consumer data on a regular basis. Companies have built an entire business model around this data. They sell information for targeted ads. However, most companies deny such allegations. 

Consumer data can be understood in terms of static and dynamic data. Static data implies personal data like demographics or bank times that don’t rapidly go through change. Whereas, dynamic data is directed towards engagement and behavioural data which is obtained through your digital footprints. Engagement data refers to the interaction of consumers with the various features of a business. Behavioural data refers to the transactional details including purchase history, product usage and more. 

Static data is basic and is mostly used only for verification purposes like Google pay asking you to switch on your location while making a transaction. It is the dynamic data that large corporations are interested in. It helps in establishing a behavioural model for their user base and third parties that are intervening in the platform.

Difference between data protection & Data privacy:

Data protection is not data privacy. These words are often used interchangeably. Some key distinctions and important ones regarding the same are:

  • Data protection is protecting data from unauthorised access whereas, data privacy is a matter of who has that authorised access.
  • Data protection is a technical issue whereas data privacy is a legal one.
  • Having one does not ensure the other! 
  • Who ensures what? The company ensures that your data is protected. They make sure you have the first level of privacy. Data privacy is in your hands. You choose who accesses what. 
  • The company in terms of data protection protects you from hackers. You are held responsible for your data being shared or sold. However, there are complexities to these now. Social media companies deny selling your data but a lot of critics have suggested otherwise.

These are some basic differences that we ought to know about. You can surely dig deeper and understand what is at play at the basics.

What can we do to ensure privacy?

While one of the questions that would come to us naturally would be: What is the Government doing?

In conversation with Mr. Arijit Sengupta, a passionate technology & communication professional with over 24 years of leadership experience across Asia and Africa, we had the opportunity to dig into the matter of data privacy. He says, “…the social media industry was way ahead of the government. No government in the world thought that we would be facing issues such as this. We are migrating towards mobile phones, the world is getting crunched in one tiny piece of device. We call it the convergence theory. So many things have converged into one device. Now, the government is trying to bring about some sort of regulation that monitors and safeguards the rights of the individual who also happens to be a voter and a citizen.”

He further added that a democratic government in whichever country it may be, a lot of the policies that are directed towards safeguarding the citizens also focus on some level of control. Social media companies too have realised that it is in their interest to help the government. Something like a quid pro quo. These companies look at expansion through such help. Indian Government treats your data as a national resource.

Some tips:

Here are some tips for privacy protection:

  • Check your social privacy settings
  • Don’t use public storage for private information. Like using google docs to save your passwords.
  • Use messaging apps with end-to-end encryption
  • Keep a private email and phone number
  • Use secure passwords 
  • Don’t use the same passwords for all your devices
  • Keep changing your passwords
  • Review permissions for mobile apps and browser extensions
  •  Avoid using public Wi-Fi
  • Be careful of what you click on. Don’t click on random links, even if it is from someone you know.
  • Use quality antivirus software
  • Keep your browser secure
  • Be careful of phishing mails
  • Read privacy policy
  • Disable access to geolocation data for apps
  • Don’t use social media on public devices