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Why We Care About Data Privacy
In the physical world, we hold our privacy as something sacred. If we catch someone poking around our home or going through our personal items, we are quick to remind them that our privacy is an inalienable right not to be messed with. But for many of us, something odd happens when we enter the digital world— we become significantly more likely to give up our right to privacy. We justify letting tech companies look through our data saying things like, “I have nothing to hide,” or “I like personalized ads” without realizing that we are giving up something much greater than our privacy. Let me explain.
Today, technology companies don’t just observe your behavior, they influence it. At first it might feel inconsequential. You search for a pair of new sneakers and then suddenly you begin to see Nike ads on websites you frequent and end up buying a pair of shoes you wouldn’t have if not for the ad.
However, with each click and interaction you make, a data point is collected on you, your interests, and your habits. As these data points build up, technology companies paint a detailed portrait of who you are and how you behave. They know your likes and dislikes, what places you frequent, what content you find engaging, who you spend time with, your insecurities and weaknesses. At no point did you give these companies permission to know such intimate details about your life, yet with the data collected on you they are able to know all of this and, in turn, use that information to suggest websites, products or ideas that fit with the image they’ve constructed of you.
The result? Eerily accurate ads for a specific product a friend of yours casually mentioned in a conversation at a cafe. You didn’t look up the product, nor did your friend send any information about it to you, but the ad appears in your feed anyway not because you were interested in it already, but because the tech company predicts you could be made to be interested in it based on what it knows about you. Tech companies predict your behavior and insert ads, ideas and entertainment that have the potential to change the way you think and behave. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of letting a stranger into your home, allowing them to go through your stuff, follow you around 24/7 all while persuasively suggesting different items to add to your home, places to go or thoughts to think.
In the end, waiving your right to digital privacy gives tech companies the green light to influence not just what you buy, but what you think. Sure, you may have nothing to hide, and may even enjoy "personalized" advertising, but your thoughts are yours and by giving up your right to data privacy, you’re also giving up your right to self-determination.
Today, there aren’t nearly enough government guardrails protecting citizens from this level of digital surveillance from tech companies, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t finding ways to take back their privacy. At Cyborg, we are building tools that give individuals back their data privacy and their autonomy. We’re giving people the tools they deserve with the convenience they expect, all coupled with an incomparable level of privacy. With Stealth, you can store your data in an end-to-end encrypted cloud that protects you from being exploited by commercial surveillance. Check out Stealth today and join the beta!