Why should I care if Google collects my data?

When doing research for my blogs, I am constantly searching Quora to find inspiration for my privacy-infused articles and get a glimpse of the most talked-about data privacy topic.

I often come across questions that everyday people, just like you and me, are searching the answers for.

And I have to be honest, some of those questions raised my eyebrows. However, as someone who is so heavily infused in data protection and data privacy area, I often fail to realize most of us just hear buzzwords that don’t really say much.

Facebook fines and WhatsApp privacy policies seem so far remote from our everyday life that we don’t pay much attention (you are still going to use the app no matter what)or the feeling of helplessness is too grand for us to feel like we can do something about it.

It is what it is. It’s just…I have a hard time accepting that.

I don’t need GDPR

The questions on Quora would vary from “How can I block those annoying GDPR-enforced cookie warnings on every website?” to “Honestly, why should I care when companies like Google collect data about me?”

To me, this showed the alarming state of unawareness as to why data protection and data privacy are important in today's society. Nevertheless, they deserve to be answered.

We see a trend in emerging data protection regulations worldwide, and we have to ask ourselves, why and for whom is it for?

All data protection laws are set out to protect the data of the individual, they equip you with tools and means to probe organization, ask questions, raise the alarm, and file complaints. So why not use it?

One of the main reasons why individuals are questioning if the whole GDPR-thing is necessary is thinking they have nothing to hide, they don’t care who uses their data, they just want fewer complications and fewer consent pop-ups.

Why you should care about your privacy?

This is your right, of course, to treat your personal information the way you want, that certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the opportunity to change your mind in general or for some specific case.

For instance, would you like your very private medical records, your phone data, or your exam grade to be publicly available? I think no matter what I would like to have a little bit of control over that sensitive personal data.

It is not just about Google and Google-alike companies. It’s about public authorities too, about your hospital, your car insurance company, your kid's kindergarten, school, everyone is obligated to be GDPR compliant and ask for your consent.

Of course, there are situations when they will process your personal data no matter what because they are obligated by law. However, your data should never be abused.

The world may change, you might change, companies, public bodies ,authorites and organizations who process your data may change. The way your data is (ab)used can change and have a greater impact on your life than you think.

In one of my recent blogs I talked about why GDPR was necessary:

“The answer is simple- technology is advancing rapidly. We live in unprecedented times, where you, as an individual, produce and share enormous amounts of data.[…] That data is at the center of business and profit for a lot of organizations and it is harvested and used in ways that weren’t even imaginable just a few years ago.

While previous data protection laws did not follow this technological development, the GDPR was set out to “catch up” and disrupt the way things have been done thus far.”

However, we need to change too. Our attitude towards our privacy should be a helping hand to regulations like GDPR.

So what happens to your personal data?

If we take targeted advertising as an example; targeted website marketing or online behavioral advertising collects data and observes your online behavior to enable custom advertisements that are supposed to be more relevant to your likes and interests.

Custom advertising can be made based on interactions that an individual has engaged in on the company’s website (like a purchase history), or conducted by the third-party ad network.

Working with multiple clients, ad networks can connect various types of data, from different websites, partners, add networks, and create an informed profile about each individual.

Using cookies and partner websites, add network can record other personal information about items and websites individual used or viewed, IP address, advertisements clicked, and purchase history. Now you get a unique identifier and a profile.

When you revisit their website, they can identify you by using a unique identifier and display a custom advertisement. There are many more ways in which businesses use the data they collect.

It’s not just about greed and who is selling and making a profit out of your data. Your personal data can also be mismanaged, leaked, breached, hacked, sold, copied, merged with other data sets and turned into something else.

If that is fine with you, that’s ok. But it’s not fine with me.

I think cookies, consents, and all that are far less annoying than targeted advertising that is exploiting my personal weaknesses, emotional state, and sensitive data to turn me into a consumer without my consent.

It is also not ok for Tik Tok, Google, Facebook, and others to sell my data, copy stuff from my phone, have access to my photos, videos, microphone, camera and turn them on and off as they please with no legitimate reason.

What I think about my privacy

And to conclude this story, yes you have something to hide- your personal life, privacy of your kids, your photos, your passwords, your bank account info.

It is still puzzling to me how people find their sensitive personal data so worthless, while everyone else is making a profit out of it.

Something to think about…

Product marketing specialist for Data Privacy Manager