Data Selling: A Gap in Cybersecurity

Internet and technology has seen an exponential increase in usage in the past two years. This, of course, means there are upgrades in related areas. Digital marketing has become more and more popular. Many services are going online.

Becoming a victim of cybercrime has increased with everything. This poses an obvious risk. It’s not apt to call it an ‘upgrade’ but it is one in a sense.

However, there is something which isn’t considered a cybercrime, but it’s very close to one. It demands cybersecurity, but it’s not covered under it.

Data collecting and selling. Let’s look into this better:

What is Data Selling?

Have you ever noticed this: you search for a kitchen-cleaner, and soon, every possible website you visit has kitchen-cleaner ads? This is because these ad companies have your data.

How did they get your data? Platforms like Google and Facebook sell it to ad companies.

Data selling is, in the most simplest terms, “providing access” for other companies to target you. Companies like Facebook don’t use the words “data selling”, but their actions do the same. Data selling means users do not have privacy. When you post something on a website, you’re consenting for it to be shown to people of your choice. You are not, however, allowing ad companies to target you for their products. These companies can take advantage of you for the sole purpose of their profit.

Even then, what makes data tracking and selling bad? Reddit user postorm said it the best in the sub-reddit “r/TrueAskReddit”:

In a sense this is a odd question. Would you ask the equivalent question in analogous situations?

“I parked my car a parking lot; What’s wrong with the Parking Lot owner selling my car?” It is MY car, not theirs.

It’s not Facebook’s data; it’s yours. And if there’s small print somewhere – that almost nobody read – and didn’t have any real choice – saying they can, then it should be invalidated.

If you enrolled your children in kindergarten and the owners had some small print hidden in a drawer giving themselves permission to sell your kids into slavery, would you ask “what’s wrong with them selling my kids?””

Through this, companies can take advantage of the user for their profit. False information becomes easier to create and spread. The algorithm is manipulated to target you and make the user experience toxic. The data collected could be used against you, to harm you. And the worst part of all, data selling is a breach of trust.

What they’re selling is your personal data.

So… What About It?

All of this can be avoided if the platforms were transparent about it. And they are, in a questionable way. Do you remember the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Terms before signing up? Those pages contain these clauses. So, let’s be honest, who even reads that? Putting this term in a big pile of words, filled with words regular users don’t understand, is exactly why this is questionable.

Data tracking, however, has also seen some good aspects in 2020 and 2021. With voluntary data collection, the tracking and spreading of the coronavirus became easier. It’s important to note here: this data tracking was voluntary. People knew what they were getting into.

Usually when our data is collected and sold, it’s beyond our knowledge.

In India, IT laws are not good enough to secure the citizens’ data. It’s convoluting and a regular citizen will struggle to understand them.

Root For More Transparency and Protection

If we look at the definition of cybersecuirty and cybercrime, data tracking and selling isn’t a part of it at all. This is another reason people do not consider this an important issue.

While data security might not feel like a big deal, it impacts our life in ways we don’t realise. This is your urge to find out ways to browse safely, more privately. Anonymously, too, if you can.

Use good VPNs while searching. Switch to private browsers if you can. Read up on best ways to protect your data. And root for better IT laws which protects data just as much as it protects us in India.

manorinfinity Written by:

Complex Problem Solver, Outloud Thinker, An Outstanding Writer, and a very curious human being

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