Sunday August 19, 2018

Clenuar: Data privacy, my butt

THE demanding multiple jobs I have right now all have one common denominator: e-mail. I read through dozens of e-mails per hour (sometimes, every ten minutes or so) and expect to attend to each one of them depending on their need. Since I am subscribed to every social platform there is (and there was) due to clients’ basic needs in their business or in their lives, I am also receiving a steady influx of privacy-policy updates from these social online websites. Name all of them, I got one and I am sure you did. I even got one from a porn site I subscribed to several years ago. (Hey, it was my age of “discovery.” Do not judge me.)

So what is the fuss all about?

Basically, the annoying e-mails you would not even bother to read, are companies telling you that they are adhering to the new regulation European Union has rolled out. They enacted the General Data Protection Regulation which gives users greater control over the information that online companies collect about them. This is apparently the repercussion of Facebook’s controversy over last year when Cambridge Analytica (CA) – a consulting firm, harvested and offered to a long list of clients more than fifty million data from Facebook users. President Rodrigo Duterte was even questioned if he was one of the clients, when a photo surfaced online of his campaign insiders together with CA’s CEO Alexander Nix. His administration denied the allegations recalling that Nix was in the country last 2015 for a “research” and at the same time talked about new techniques in election campaigns.

Of course no one questioned further what techniques those were, and this issue, just like the P6.4-B shabu, died down.

Contrary to how everyone’s decry on CA, CA did not hack anyone. A survey was posted online and people were invited to participate. The researcher was given access to personal information of those who took the survey. Not only that was accessed, but also the user’s friends’ information — which Facebook allowed at the time. With that said, CA was able to access information of those who did not even download the app. Facebook was under fire when they refused to recognize this as a security breach.

There are technologies I can go on and talk about that are “listening,” “reading,” and “watching” us. Take for example, my iPhone that has been consistently asking me to sign up until now for the fingerprint recognition feature called the Touch ID. Apple boasts its miracle for convenience like unlocking the phone with one print away (like tapping on some security numbers is such a daunting task) with no password required. However, one must not forget of the gaping security hole. There have been some findings at New York University and Michigan State University last year that suggest, smartphones can easily be fooled by fake fingerprints digitally composed of many common features found in human prints. Some online banking can be accessed through fingerprint recognition, which becomes an easy gateway for hackers for online robbery.

You might think I am crazy for yapping about something that is not happening to you. But if I “Google-d” about a flat-screen 4K television and the next day it suggested me where to buy it, showed me some steps on how to mount it on the wall, what are the possible prices, and some companies whose products are on TV keep on e-mailing me about discounts and sale period within the year, I would go crazy of course.

There is something primal about the need for privacy, secrecy and for personal space. These things are what we seem to want, but we tend to exchange them for convenience nowadays.

One thing is for sure, I am certainly looking out for the next sale period.