Lack of Transparency As To Who Collects What
It goes without saying that most consumers are well aware of their data being harvested by companies specializing in that area of expertise. After all, we live in a world where we need to consume as much as we can in a short amount of time. In order to achieve that goal, we receive commercials on tv, on the radio and in the newspapers. But it goes much further than that, especially when you start spending some time online.
Google has often been criticized for collecting sensitive user data whenever you are using one of their services. And the odd thing is: those services have become part of our everyday lives anyway, simply because they are free to use and suit our needs. But have you ever considered the possibility that every email you read or send in Gmail may cause a butterfly effect in the world of advertising?
Advertisers are finding it increasingly difficult to reach a broad audience, so the strategy has shifted to targeting the right audience. Not just in terms of demographics, although those remain an incredibly important aspect of targeted ads. But it would be so much simpler to send an advertisement to people who are already looking at a product similar to the one you are selling.
To put this idea into perspective, let’s assume you are looking for a new car online. You have never signed up for any website selling cards, nor a financial service extending a loan to pay for said car. However, a few days after you started browsing the internet, emails start coming in related to cars. Various websites and garages are at your disposal all of a sudden, yet you have only been looking for a brief period. Where does this sudden interest come from? Targeted advertising.
Changing Consumer Habits
Regardless of how you feel about targeted advertising, it has changed the way in which we consume. Every year, people buy more and more products online, which gives advertisers ample opportunities to boost their revenue. And we are all chewing it up like there is no tomorrow. Has anyone ever stopped to wonder what happens to our data after it has been sent out to advertisers? Does it get destroyed, or is it sitting on remote servers for later use? And how much do these companies know about us exactly?
As it turns out, mega corporations know far more about us than we would like. To give that statement a bit more merit, simply look at Pistats.io, a new mobile application which actively tracks how much you have spent when car-sharing. All this application needs is access to your email address linked to services such as Uber and Lyft so it cans can your electronic receipts and visualize the ride-sharing data.
This kind of data scraping is rather worrying, as Pistats.io does only requires access to your email address to collect a ton of sensitive information. Where will this information end up, once it has been visualized to you? Surely it is stored on some server somewhere, and who knows where the data will be sent to once it has been harvested.
The Pistats.io app goes much farther than just tallying up the total amount of money spent, as it can also break down your expenses by day of the month. On top of that, it can also tell during which hours you user services like Lyft and Uber more, compared to others. But the most worrying part is that it can map your routes, and point out your pick-up and drop-off locations.
Gaining More Insight in Data Harvesting
If there was ever a time for more transparency, both in terms as to who collectors what kind data, but more important, to whom this data is sent to afterward, it would be right now. That being said, there is no way these companies will give out that kind of information to the public. Not only because there is no incentive to do so, but simply because governments don’t want to enforce them to do so.
There is only one true kind of power in the entire world, and that power comes in the form of knowledge. Most consumers have ignored these breaches of privacy in order to gain access to convenient methods of spending money and buying goods and services. But as it turns out, the price we had to pay for those privileges is quite hefty.
One way for us to gain access to the information being collected is by forcing these companies to adopt a more transparent technology such as the blockchain. In fact, the blockchain can be used not only to allow for transparency, but also to store all of the data being harvested at the same time. A public ledger to show us what kind of data is being tracked exactly, and who the intended recipients of that information are.
Needless to say, most companies will try and keep this data close to their chest for as long as they possibly can. The only way for the average consumer to gain more insight is by uniting as a front and demanding their privacy back. Waiting around for these things to happen will simply not work, as mega corporations hold way too much power in a centralized manner.
A decentralized revolution is coming, whether these companies want to admit it or not. And the first step to claiming back what is rightfully ours by demanding more transparency starts with the individual consumer. The blockchain technology is here to help you achieve that goal, and the time to embrace it is now.