Do you like superhero movies, like Iron Man? Most of the people say yes undoubtedly. How many times did you dreamed of having Jarvis beside you? Well, it’s not just you even I also dreamed of having something like this beside me. If you do not like superhero movies that is also fine, you can still keep reading the article, no one is stopping you.
In movies we used to see Jarvis do all the major tasks starting from maintaining security to answering phone, but have you ever though how an interactive program can do so much stuffs, where it gets all those data? Guess what, it’s the internet and all the private network it is connected to.
As internet privacy and digital privacy are same in many aspects, which is why in this post I’m going to address them as privacy only to make this easier to read and understand.
So, how these all get started?
Well, if you are a person who born in early 90s (like me) or even before that might feel like every day we are pushing towards the impossible, it’s like living in the science fiction universe which we are used to read in comic books or watch in movies. We feel like this because we are from such a time where technology was not so advanced and thinking about an octacore CPU on out mobile device was like building castle in the air.
In late 90s some computer researchers from Michigan, Californian had seen a great flaw in the computer systems. Earlier, most people doesn’t have personal computers but even computers at their work place not used to work like exactly the way people wanted.
Those researchers figure out that every person has different likings hence a single things is not appealing to all users. So, it was evident that the computer must need to learn its users’ behavior to provide a much more personalized experience.
After the PC & internet revolution things started to change quickly. More people were purchasing PCs and getting connected to the internet to gather more information. Overtime this revolutions ignited a lot more revolutions which brings us to this very stage of life.
In early 2000, when the tech companies started realizing how important this internet economy can be, they also realized the importance of tracking the users to provide a much more relevant data with extreme accuracy.
Why these company do these things?
Companies track their user and gather their user information for various reason. Most important and vivid reasons are:
- To provide an extraordinary user experience
- To earn more money by showing relevant things to you
Though some might disagree with me and say there and many possible domains where they use our private data, but the thing is no matter where they use them all of the use case lines back to these two accumulative points.
Let me give you an example and try to reply honestly to yourself. Let’s say you have a small company which manufacture sports products and now you want to market your company. Which channel will you choose for advertising your products? Is it Ten Sports, Neo Sports or CW, abc & cartoon network? Well, you are a wise businessman, you will go with Ten Sports and similar sports channel. Ask yourself why? Well, that is because your target audience watches those kind of channel.
Unfortunately in internet there is no specific channel like these and hence sport fans as well as comic fans all are use the same internet in same way but interested in different kind of contents. Now if you are paying Google or and internet company for showing ads, one thing that you must ask is to reach to your target audience. How a computer can understand your interest unless it tracks your and sneaking into all of your data to learn more about you?
What about user experience?
If you consider user experience, ask yourself have your ever thought that a virtual assistant like Jarvis will be always beside you whenever you need, especially in your lifetime? Guess what, now-a-days almost all of us uses virtual assistant like Siri, Google Now, Cortana and it really gives us relevant information just at our fingertips, even before asking it. Cool, but scary too.
These programs uses all of your data stored with that respective company to learn your behavior interest and lifestyle to provide you a much more relevant information. One example of this is if your ever setup Siri on a brand new apple device with a brand new apple id, like this is the first time you are stepping into the apple family, you will find that Siri is the most dumbest thing you have ever seen in your lifetime. But overtime and you keep using various apple services and add more personal data within them, the digital assistance will start to be mature too.
This is not just not just Apple, all major tech company does this. Be it Google or Microsoft or whoever in the name of better user experience. Do you remember the great “Send Report” button on Windows XP and later? What do you thing it used to do? It sends the details of the file you have tried to open, the contents of the file, the extension of the file and the program you used for opening the file to the Microsoft server so that they can they can debug the issue.
Why no one has talked about this before?
Well, that is really sad that people notice things very lately. Mostly after releasing Windows 10 people started talking about the privacy holes. Lots of YouTube videos, podcasts, but none did all these things when Siri was launched or Google Now was launched or about other companies who tracks their user data. Why? Who knows, maybe people are more concerned about their PC privacy than privacy or any other mobile or non-mobile devices.
What should we do then?
This really a billion dollar question to ask. If you ask me, I would say I can keep my general private stuffs with Google, because this is the only tech company in the world which I can truly trust with my data. If you are thinking why that is, then please take a look at my Windows 10 Review where I discussed about this in great detail that why I trust Google services over any other company knowing they will track my everything. Briefly speaking mainly for three reasons:
- They use these data to improve them and provide me a great service
- The process of getting data out from Google is the hardest
- Mainly, this company will never go to the dogs
One of the major worry about these tech companies that are gathering our personal data is that we never know when they company will go astray and sell it’s every asset to some other company and we will never know the intention of the next company without precious data. They may use it for good or just throw it away in the roads.
But if you are really concerned about your personal information and private data on the internet, in the cloud or even in your PC which is again connected to internet, you can follow the below tricks to secure your digital data privacy:
- Never use any email id with any service provider. If you truly need secure email, purchase a domain & a secure server/hosting and host your email on your own server only.
- Never create any social account on any sites. Always note that the privacy setting any social sites has is only for giving you the freedom of what you want to and do not want to show to others, but that never include anything about the usage of your information by that company for internal research and development.
- Never use Windows or MacOSX, go with user friendly linux distribution like Ubuntu. If you do not use much Windows specific programs then you will be fine with Linux and you can even run some Windows apps in Linux by using Wine. But if you use some resource consuming Windows programs like Photoshop, Premier Pro etc. or if you are a hardcore gamer you have to stay with Windows.
- Never keep internet always on in your computer or mobile device, turn it off when you are not using it and again turn it back on when you need it. Something like what we used to do with dial-up modems.
- Never share anything on internet. No picture, no comment, nothing. Use the internet just to consume data and not to share any thoughts.
- Use VPN services like ZenMate and others for a secure internet connectivity.
- Never connect to public WiFi systems.
- Use old school paper filing approach for storing the important and sensitive data.
- Never use cloud based home security systems.
If you can follow these things, you will be very much secure in terms or your internet privacy and digital privacy, but I do admit it’s really hard to live a life like this in our tech consuming world.
In the world where data mining is the most important digital asset, it is hard to keep your private data and private life really private. Overtime this will become even more complicated as technology improves exponentially. At the end it is all about your priority for different things.
If you have more priority to use the latest technology advancement, you have to let go the dream of keeping your data private, but if you give more priority to privacy you have to let go the urge of using latest technologies. The more you use latest technology, the more you will be getting tracked and stalked be it your mobile or wearables or computers. This of it this way if Jarvis doesn’t have access to every single information of Toney Stark, including his business information, internet data and access to secure military networks, it would had been only a simple program instead of what we are used to see in the Iron Man movie.
It is really exciting and scary when we look behind and see how much our technology has been evolved and when you look under the hood, how much scary it is. Frankly speaking, I truly miss my 90s life 😛 What is your opinion about the privacy of today’s world? Do you also miss the past like me? Also is there any other approach you guys follow to retain your privacy? We can carry on this discussion in the comment section below. 🙂
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