How safe is our data and privacy?

Rachel Power

With the number of social media sites and tech based firms on the rise annually, how safe is our data and privacy when we’re online?

We’ve all had the experience of googling a certain restaurant or online shopping for instance, logging out of the basket and having the same items you were looking at appear on your timeline on Facebook or Instagram.

It’s confusing, infuriating and in all honesty, a little bit creepy to think of how easily this happens. It’s all to do with tech companies harbouring our data from our search engines and selling it on to media outlets to use as a promotion device.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has shed some light on how this works and resulted in extra data protection measures being put in place to keep our information safe. 

In early 2018, a company known as Cambridge Analytica collected data without the consent of millions of people’s Facebook profiles and used it to sell on for political advertising. The company itself collects people’s data, analyses it and sells it on to companies to aim their products at.

In its simplest form, the company is a prime example of how tech firms invade our online privacy and collect our data to sell to brands as a way of boosting their sales. It essentially gets you to think about that top you deleted from your shopping basket every time you scroll down your Facebook timeline for about a week.

After the 2018 scandal, Cambridge Analytica was closed, but other firms closely related to it still exist, which means that our data is still being collected, but by different companies.

The Data Protection Act 2018, or as it’s better known, GDPR Regulations were made and instantly put into place in May 2018, shortly after the Cambridge incident. These regulations mean more protection for our personal data, and that websites have to ask permission to use your data they collect from you while you view their page before you can properly browse them.

This still doesn’t mean that all the tech firms in the world aren’t illegally collecting our data without our consent, but it does mean that a huge portion of them now have to follow regulations that we give permission to.

It’s a huge pond when it comes to data and firms collecting it, but by being careful and bringing laws into place, we can all rest assured that we’re a little bit safer online.

Rachel Power

Image credit: Mike Peel