A reporter at ProPublica took on a task a lot of us must be thinking about in light of Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and the like. He asked big tech companies for his file. (There was a similar story in the NYTimes.)
“Once you see your data, you’ll have a much better understanding of how this shadowy corner of the new economy works. You’ll see what seemingly personal information they know about you … and you’ll probably have some hypotheses about where this data is coming from. You’ll also probably see some predictions about who you are that are hilariously wrong.”
Hilariously wrong sometimes, and perhaps other times not so comical. Given where we are, is there any hope, and any technologically feasible way, to assert and protect privacy rights that are implicit linked metadata? Is there a balance between privacy and convenience, and this extraordinary power that is provided by search at scale. Once data privacy was a by-product of obscurity amplified by the difficulty of finding even public records, much less linking them. Now, a database with billions of records is, if not exactly child’s play, certainly achievable. The relative ease, and the gold-rush level riches potential, ganged up with the lack of any functional international or even national policy and regulatory regime means we are all in this data-shoot out unwillingly but inevitably.
“The right to be left alone—the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by a free people.”—Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, 1928
More here, including tips on your doing your own data audit: https://www.propublica.org/article/how-to-wrestle-your-data-from-data-brokers-silicon-valley-and-cambridge-analytica