You are being Watched!

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What if I told you that someone is listening to you all the time? What if I told you that someone is tracking you, looking at you, and looking through your private data? What if I told you that someone can manipulate you using your own data?

Human civilization strives for more a more every generation. The luxury of one generation has always become necessity for another generation. And technology has become the necessity for this generation. We are surrounded by tech gadgets that we find extremely fascinating. We are surrounded by tools of personalization. Big tech giants like Amazon, Google, Samsung and many more are in a hurry to create these machines that can assist us, talk to us, or in simple words, be our personal assistant. But, ever wonder, why are these tech giants devoted so in order to thoughtfully assist you through each day? Have you ever wondered why does google not charge you for using its web browser?

The answer is Data. Data is the most valuable asset in this planet. Data surpassed crude oil to become the most valuable thing in this world. Data is extremely powerful. It can change elections, it can change politics, and manipulate every individual. These gadgets collect your personal data. Personal Assistants from google or amazon are extremely dangerous gadgets because they are loaded with recorders. Yes, you read it right. These gadgets can listen to your private conversations. The Smart T.V series from Samsung had recording elements which could record everything you talk with your family. How ethical does it sound?

When we first install any device in our mobile phones, the app displays terms and conditions. but, have you had time to read all through it? Have you even considered reading? These terms and conditions are all manipulated so that majority of population skip it for the sake of time. But these terms and conditions are treacherous for they hold consent to use your data, contact information, location and so many other things. With such data, anyone can track you down at any instant. In an article, “ The privacy Project”, by the New York Times, the author mentions that he was able to track down one of the most powerful persons in the world, peoples inside the White House and all-around New York. Now imagine if these data somehow reach the wrong hands. It is fascinating and troubling beyond imagination.

Cambridge Analytica, a U.K based political consultant firm, used private data and surveillance to manipulate the vote in the United States by manipulating the “persuadable” population within United States. The literally data mined the population in the United States and mentioned that they had 6000 data points per every individual in the United States. They are believed to be manipulating the election in the United States. Not only United States, Cambridge Analytica has been involved in several political movement and elections like Brexit, elections in India, Brazil, Nepal, Trinidad and Tobago and several many. In 2016 elections, they created questionnaires and polls to determine the weak-minded population, which can be persuaded to change their vote. The data mined and used fake information to sway peoples away from the opponent. This is just an example of how powerful data is and how it can be manipulated.

After all of this, what if I tell you that your data is sold to anonymous buyers? An irony is not it? Your data is being collected by someone, and it is being sold to someone else. And no one knows how the data is being used. In 2018, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica suffered such fate because their misuse of data and manipulation. Yet, the tech giants continue to collect data illegally and without anyone’s consent.

Use of personal data without consent of the people to whom the data belongs should be regarded as violation of human right. Data right is very essential for the prevention of privacy, integrity and legacy of every individual. But, why has there been no voice against it? Why do people consider it no threat? Is it because we are receiving all these advantages through these tech gadgets? Or are we trading our data with the features that we get. And is the advantage worth it?  There are so many questions which have no answers.  But we can act from our end. We must be aware of this misuse of personal data.


Position: Sophomore, The University of Toledo

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