How much is our data worth on the Net: Big Brother is everywhere

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Text comes from: Mich kriegt ihr nicht! Schritte zur digitalen Selbstverteidigung (2013) from Steffan Heuer, published by Murmann Verlag, Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.

The issue of privacy becomes completely confusing, considering that most websites write in their privacy policy that they will never sell users' data or rent it out to third parties.

big brother

Here writes for you:


Steffan Heuer steffan-heuerSteffan Heuer is brand eins correspondent in California.


What exactly do companies promise?

Interestingly, hardly any company promises that they will not buy or exchange data from third parties. This restriction usually only applies to “personal data” in the USA or “personal data” in the EU - the sensitive details such as full name, date of birth or address.

The limitation of not selling or renting user data, on the other hand, does not apply to the rather barely defined anonymous data that collects and aggregates web pages. They are supposed to be anonymous and far away from the individual user.

Put the puzzle together

However, with the right algorithm, these two parts of the puzzle can be reassembled in a very short time and a user can be identified retrospectively.

"When it comes to social networks, anonymity is not enough for data protection," is the main conclusion of a pioneering study on the practice of re-identification by Arvind Narayanan and Vitaly Shmatikov.

Companies can find out who you are

In other words, even if you think the anonymity of the crowd is protecting you, companies can find out who you are when they have only enough parts of the data puzzle.

Data cheating is even dependent on your consent. When you launch a new application, such as a game, it usually requires access to very private information such as birthdays, schools attended, your friends' list, and even Article in the news feed - all valuable tips for targeted advertising.

Really private use: Unaffordable?

This allows you to automatically track who is eating in which restaurants or watching movies. If a social network between 5 and 20 generates annual sales per customer, why does not it offer you Plan B for the same amount to choose a truly private service?

The cost certainly wouldn't be prohibitive. Facebook, for example, says it spends around one dollar per year per user to keep its infrastructure running.

Models for data protection

Or how about a multi-level model in which the data protection-oriented users can choose what they want to surrender as a return for a series of discounts? Cable television, iTunes and many other services prove that people are willing to pay for access to content that is important to them.

Google Apps, the enterprise version of the productivity applications like Gmail and Google Drive, is by the way such an alternative. In contrast to the free consumption variant, the Business version does not have any ads based on scanning the content of each message in the inbox. This type of automated snooping would not tolerate any business clientele.

Designed to get us into the pan!

The reason the regular consumer is falling victim is simple, says American privacy expert Christopher Soghoian: “Facebook was designed to violate your privacy at every turn.

There is no way of a Facebook- or buy a Google subscription, which preserves privacy. If these companies were to advertise their new product as something that values ​​data protection, they would have to admit that their regular product is no good. These services are there by default from the factory to put us in the pan. "

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