Technology

Why you need to control your data privacy, security

Social-media#1

Summary

  • Despite glaring research that shows how these platforms collect and mine our data, we seem resigned to the fact that we are the product, feeding the commercial frenzy for eyeballs to great profit for these platforms.
  • As big tech in their jurisdictions tend to government summons and deploy capital to their lobbyist minders, individual consumers can and should take more control of their data privacy and security.
  • Browsers are owned and controlled by different entities and offer varied tools that can be used to make your online activity a little more private.

We are hopelessly hooked to the microdoses of dopamine that online platforms serve us daily. The titillating buzz of a notification that serves as affirmation for many that something they shared has resonated with another, known or stranger; a view, a like, or other emoji being the social currency.

Despite glaring research that shows how these platforms collect and mine our data, we seem resigned to the fact that we are the product, feeding the commercial frenzy for eyeballs to great profit for these platforms that have us enamored, mediating, and selling our attention to the highest bidder.

However, there is concern about the reach and insights that these platforms have, attracting the attention of governments across the world who see the obvious threat that these digital republics carry.

As big tech in their jurisdictions tend to government summons and deploy capital to their lobbyist minders, individual consumers can and should take more control of their data privacy and security.

The browser is often the first point of contact with the online world and this doorway is not private by default. Thousands of companies go to great effort to build tools that track most of our online actions as we visit various online destinations.

Browsers are owned and controlled by different entities and offer varied tools that can be used to make your online activity a little more private. A habit to adopt is to seek out privacy-centric websites for key actions such as search or use a browser that's built not to capture and share your data arbitrarily such as Tor or Brave. It may take some getting used to.

The mobile phone is the main channel through which the majority world connects to the internet. With it, come a constellation of applications that can either be installed directly - sideloaded or via numerous mobile application stores on the web or native to the original equipment manufacturers.

OEM’s are fond of shipping phones that come preloaded with apps. These apps often have permissions that may be difficult to revoke and adware has been known to form part of this pre-install bloat that can compromise your privacy and security. This little fact should influence your purchase choice.

Google, which licenses out the Android operating system has been clamping down on abuse by apps looking to access restricted data and actions.

Where it is not possible to uninstall bloatware, the first line of defense is to disable them. Another key pointer is not to rush to install anything. Take time to confirm the legitimacy of the developer and check reviews for any red flags.

This is hardly exhaustive, but it will put you in the right frame of mind to look out for yourself in a mobile-first, online world.

Njihia is the head of business and partnerships at Sure Corporation | www.mbuguanjihia.com | @mbuguanjihia