Mass surveillance and data collection

the power of centralised services

privacy 3 minute read

We live in the age of data collection. Everywhere we go we leave a trail of small pieces of knowledge. Each piece on its own doesn’t do much, but collecting and assembling these pieces into a personality profile is a huge business. That’s how advertisement networks target ads to you across apps and devices.

You probably already know this, you’ve seen the ads, you’ve seen the news articles exposing it. But that is not what makes me concerned. What scares me is what can be done with this data once it has been collected.

Imagine this, a private company in the US has intimate knowledge of how billions of people are feeling every day. Every hour they know that, this person just messaged exciting news to a friend. This kid is planning to run away from home. That worker is going to get fired. Someones mother is in the hospital. The list goes on.

Its not only personal stories that get logged. It is also our biometric data. Facebook can recognize your face with great accuracy since years. TikTok now officially states in their privacy policy that they collect voice print data from all its users. And Amazon tracks absolutely every single click you do on their website and every touch on their devices.

Enormous amounts of big data is collected and processed in centralized private companies. Imagine what could be done with this kind of global personal data. You could make heaps of money targeting ads to depressed teenagers or even just that one client you want. You can experiment with peoples emotions. You could even sway elections to your whim. All this has already happened. What is next?

Should someone really have this power?

We can change this. Stop feeding the big corporate surveillance machine. Delete Facebook today and start demanding real privacy in your messaging apps, services and social media networks. We cannot fully stop the collection of data everywhere, but we can at least spread it out as much as possible.

  • Stop using Amazon, use local shops or search online for alternatives
  • Stop using Google Search, try out DuckDuckGo or Ecosia
  • Stop using Google Docs, try out CryptPad or NextCloud
  • Stop using Zoom, try out Jitsi
  • Stop using WhatsApp, try out Signal
  • Stop using Twitter, try out Mastodon
  • Stop using Slack, try out Element

All of these alternatives are free and most are open source. They might not always be as convenient as the big services, but that is how they get you, with convienience and glitzy marketing and then they have all your data. By trying alternatives you will learn new ways of doing things!