Amazon Alexa wants me to know that they celebrate International Data Privacy Day. I’m awestruck at the chutzpah of this claim.
Reviews of a Samsung smart television I’m considering express frustration at the crapware loaded onto the system because it is difficult to navigate and tracks viewing habits.
An app I need for my Mac immediately requests access to my Documents and Downloads folders for no obvious reason. Denying the request has no impact on the functioning of the app.
A phone app I use to help me track strength exercises wants me to share my data with the Health app. It won’t stop asking me about it, even though I’ve repeatedly denied the request. Why? It’s not just for my own well-being, I’m certain.
Garmin shares my workout data, all highly personal containing health & location information, with various third parties, and there’s no way to opt out if you want to use their hardware.
Twitter delivers customized ads, even though I had at one time opted out, at a rate of 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 tweets to my timeline.
Facebook rages against Apple for daring to require that apps hosted in the Apple store contain privacy disclosures.
YouTube TV does not offer an ad-free option for viewers, but does offer a new ad delivery platform for advertisers. As a way of thanking their customers for their all-consuming eyes and ears, Google raised YouTube TV rates more than 60% in recent years.
I don’t know, but strongly suspect, that Netflix, Prime, Disney+, Spotify and more sell my media consumption habits to third parties.
I bet if I dig into what Amazon is doing with their analysis of my shopping habits, I’ll be perturbed.
SalesForce.com recently bought Slack. I’m sure it’s all bad news on the privacy front for we Slack users, if not today, then eventually. There seems little other justification for the huge acquisition cost–what Slack has built from a software perspective isn’t especially differentiated, and the audio/video chat component borders on unusable.
As best as I can tell, Google reads my Gmail communications and scans my private documents, ostensibly in the name of keeping ahead of the bad guys. Google certainly monetizes search, and is generally understood to monetize all of their apps in any way they can think to.
Firefox recently congratulated itself on providing protection from supercookies, designed to track web users across sites and evade cookie deletion.
Internet service providers are reputed to track the habits of their users as the packets fly across the wire, selling that data to third parties.
The definition of “end to end encryption” has come under careful scrutiny, as some messaging clients have claimed said feature while actually being a man in the middle of the conversation.
I have two credit cards I applied for back when I worked for the issuing bank and was a loyal employee. That bank unashamedly discloses that they are selling my transaction data to third parties, and only providing a limited opt-out ability.
The Robinhood stock trading app sells the transaction data of its users to third parties, acting essentially as an intelligence gathering operation, helping Wall Street market manipulators do their nefarious work more efficiently.
A law firm I worked with years ago was hacked by unknown bad guys. The law firm didn’t disclose the hack for months after they knew about it. As a result, my identity was fraudulently used to apply for loans and credit cards, and open checking accounts before I had a chance to protect myself.
I could go on. These are merely the examples of privacy invasion and human data trafficking that leaped to mind as I began writing this piece. Some of my thoughts are admittedly speculation, but I hope come across as logical progressions and not outrageous conspiracy theories.
I’ve taken steps to mitigate the abuse I ignorantly opted into by using these services. I no longer use my pricey Garmin watch as there’s no way to offload the data without using their invasive app. I switched to non-Google search with no ill effects. I’ve curtailed my use of Twitter to the bare minimum required for my work as a creator. I unplugged my Alexa devices years ago. I’ve moved all personal communications to Signal or (if I must) iMessage. I use Privacy.com. I’ve deactivated 15+ Slack accounts, leaving active only 3 Slack groups I must participate in. I’ve considered a VPN service, but routing my traffic through a third party VPN makes me anxious about internet performance, which I must have for my work. Plus, I have little reason to trust VPN providers more than my ISP.
Are we not living in the dystopia foretold by Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, and others? It no longer feels like an exaggeration to say so.