Column: Privacy and Technology

Today, technology companies such as Google and Facebook monitor every single action made on their services. Your emails, your photos, your Google searches, and the record of any websites you visit are stored somewhere inside these technology companies’ servers.

Given the billion plus users these respective companies have on services, it may not seem like a big issue that they have one person’s data. However, this also means that at any given time, anyone with authorized access to these companies’ data is allowed to take a peek at anyone’s shopping history, emails, and credit card information. Now that Google makes handset devices and uses location data to improve Google Maps, it also collects your precise location.

The thought of a stranger in Silicon Valley knowing who I am, what I search for, what I like, where I live, and where I am is disturbing. The fact that this information is then shared with advertisement agencies is even more alarming.

Sure, there is always the option of opting-out of these companies’ services, but when their services are a necessity, it is hard to live without them. The alternatives to Google Search,  or Google Maps, for example, do not even come close to providing the quality of Google’s services.

The U.S. government makes this situation worse. As shown by Edward Snowden’s leaks, the government is not afraid to go into these companies’ servers and take a look at someone’s data. This requires no warrant. Now, not only do the employees of the technology companies, and their advertisers know who I am, where I am, and what I like, but this information is also shared with government officials. Given this, it is likely that my data will be accessed at one point in time.

This situation is menacing. Technology companies collect more and more data on their users, and this gives them unprecedented influence and power over our lives. It should be a moral responsibility for these companies to reform how much they know about everyone who uses their service, but morals are virtually nonexistent in business. Therefore, I have no choice but to welcome our new overlords.


 

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