You may take your online privacy very seriously. You always connect to one of the best VPN services while surfing the web. Likewise, read the Terms and Conditions carefully before clicking the “Agree” button. You can even adjust the settings of your smartphone and apps to ensure they record as little information about you as possible.
However, despite your best efforts, big tech companies still collect a massive amount of data about you on a daily basis. Not surprisingly, they make tons of money doing it too.
Since data collection looks like an inevitable practice, why not benefit from it yourself. Would you sell your sensitive data for a profit if you had the means to do so?
This is exactly the question that analysis house Exploding Topics asked more than 1,600 Americans. And — surprise, surprise — nearly half of those surveyed said they would.
Make money from your data as a fair practice
Analysts from Exploding Topics have come forward as part of a larger investigation (opens in new tab) to 1,617 internet users living in the US to get their views on privacy, online content ownership and the role of big tech companies.
Perhaps the most interesting finding actually relates to the Sale of Personal Information.
While it is recognized that these companies derive huge profits by providing users’ personal information to third parties for commercial purposes, a staggering 47.9% of respondents said they would consider selling their data for financial gain .
The remaining half then breaks down into 26.5% who say they wouldn’t and 25.6% who are unsure what they would do if given the opportunity to share their own sensitive information to make money.
Analysts got an even stronger response when they asked whether users should automatically share in the profits if a company sells its data. Here, more than 70% agreed it would be a fair exchange.
What data does Big Tech collect about you?
While such a practice is unlikely to take root in the big tech sector any time soon, you can at least make some more conscious choices about what information you share with whom. To do this, it is important to know exactly what types of personal data these companies store about their users.
Companies record a number of Personal information about their users directly from them. This includes name, phone number, email address, home address, payment details, username, passwords and even the emails they write and/or receive.
Another record falls into the category of unique identifiers Characterization of the device you use to go online. This includes IP address, device and/or browser type, system activity recording, and URL request details.
Then there is specific information that has been collected User Activities. This can be the search terms they search for, messages shared, content viewed and the length of their online session.
Additional data that large tech companies store about users comes from theirs location information, like the time zone they are connected to and GPS movements. Businesses can even get information about their customers publicly available sources such as newspapers, advertisers and credit bureaus.
Among the largest companies in the market, Google wins the gold medal for the most data collected (opens in new tab). On the other hand, Apple seems to be the one doing the most to protect its customers’ privacy. Also, the two main social media platforms, Twitter and Facebook, seem to store more data than they need.
As you can see, it’s an effortless wild exploitation of users’ personal information for their financial gain for companies. Because of this, governments around the world are busy drafting new laws to address privacy issues related to today’s digital society.
The concept of data minimization is critical here. Based on many global data protection laws such as the EU/UK GDPR and the proposed US data protection law, it allows companies to collect only the information from users that is strictly necessary to provide a given service in the most transparent way possible.
Ways to minimize data collection
However, the way big tech companies and governments operate is not the only factor impacting user data collection. Individuals can do their part to get their personal information back.
We already mentioned how a VPN service can help protect your privacy. This is because it spoofs your IP location and encrypts your data in transit in its secure VPN tunnel. Choose a no-logs VPN provider to ensure none of your personal information is ever recorded.
You also have a few alternatives to better secure your face-to-face conversations. A Messaging app with end-to-end encryption, like WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram, is a must. There are also secure email services prevent others from reading your emails. One of our favorites is ProtonMail, developed by the same Swiss company behind the Proton VPN secure VPN service.
You should also consider using Anonymous browser and Private search engine. The Tor browser is a must-have if online privacy is of paramount importance, as it secures your data with three layers of encryption. It’s a bit slow, but completely free to use. A good alternative to your data-hungry search engine is DuckDuckGo.
Along with more private software and other security services, there are also some measures you can take to stay on top of your digital hygiene. These include Change passwords regularly, Turn off location data Collection of apps that don’t need this information to work and Keep clearing your cache history recording from your browser.
As a rule of thumb, keep yourself up to date on who you are entrusting your data to, while minimizing the personal information you share as much as possible. There is no financial gain here, but at least you gain online anonymity.
https://www.techradar.com/news/would-you-sell-your-data-for-profit-nearly-50-of-americans-said-they-would Would you sell your data for profit? Nearly 50% of Americans said they would