Three years ago today the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was enacted in the EU to protect you from morally questionable digital surveillance, and trust me, we’re all better off for it. Essentially the GDPR stops large companies from tracking you across the web and using that information to change your behaviour. When companies are collecting data they must disclose what they are collecting and why, plus they need to ensure that the data is well protected.
The immediate success of the GDPR led other jurisdictions to follow with similar policies to protect people, including in Japan, Chilie, Kenya, and more.
Over the BBC they cheekily posted a list of the biggest offenders of the GDPR (which shows why the legislation is needed).
4. H&M (35.3m euros)
H&M was fined by German regulators in 2020 after it was found to have been secretly monitoring hundreds of its employees.
If workers took holiday or sick leave, they were required to attend a meeting with senior staff at the retail giant on their return.
These meetings were recorded, and made accessible to H&M managers without the knowledge of staff.
The data collected from the interviews was used to make a “detailed profile” of workers, which then influenced decisions concerning their employment.
You’ve probably heard that Facebook is bad for you and shrugged it off thinking that it’s not a big deal. Turns out it is, and you really should get off of Facebook.
We all know how Facebook spies on use and profits from our secrets by selling our data. Tracking blockers and using privacy friendly browsers can help protect you from their spying.
It’s also now well known that Facebook harbours white nationalists and profits from cult-like groups (QAnon), and those too can be avoided. Facebooks real damage to your well being is more insidious than its attempt to promote radicalism and profiting from it. Facebook will make you feel awful because of what others post there.
The solution to make your life better: stop going to Facebook.
Is deleting your account too extreme? Start by limiting how often you go to the site, maybe just once a week or once a month. Definitely don’t post on the site.
“Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being,” the researchers wrote in aHarvard Business Reviewarticle. “These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year.” Yikes.
Why is too much Facebook bad for your emotional health? Previous research has shown that the social network creates a sort of false peer pressure. Since most people are cautious about posting negative or upsetting experiences on Facebook, the social network creates a misleading environment where everyone seems to be doing better and having more fun than you are. As the researchers put it, “Exposure to the carefully curated images from others’ lives leads to negative self-comparison.”
I’ve been using Duck Duck Go instead of Google search for years and don’t regret it. There are less ads and the search results include more diverse sources – plus I don’t get trapped in Google’s filter bubble. Over at No More Google they have compiled a list of services you can use to get Google out of your life. Like reducing meat in your diet, reducing Google in your life doesn’t have to be absolute. Just do what you’re comfortable with, maybe that’s no longer using Chrome or maybe it’s switching away from Gmail.
Google shut off Alexa O’Brien’s Google Drive account, denying her access to it, because her reporting on Chelsea Manning’s trial included copies of al-Qa’ida propaganda that was presented as evidence.
Never trust a remote storage company to keep anything but a spare backup copy. When you store that, put your files into an archive and encrypt it so that the company can’t tell what’s in them — not even their file names.
Vox lawyers got Youtube to take down criticisms of a video published by Vox, and threaten the critics with punishment, too.
The videos were almost surely fair use, but Youtube decided against the critics anyway. This shows how Youtube’s general submission to the copyright industry constrict’s people’s rights.
To figure out the spread of COIV-19, or other diseases, the technique of contact tracing gets used by researchers to decipher who is likely to have been exposed. When too many people are infected then contact tracing takes too much labour and subsequently becomes less useful, which has led tech companies and government to propose the ability to track you everywhere you go. You might think “what’s the big deal?”, the big deal is that this tracking will continue past the pandemic and it doesn’t need to happen in the first place. There are ways to build technical contact tracing without the government or an undemocratic mega-corporation spying or profiteering off of your personal location.
The wonderful Nicky Case put together a comic explaining how we can have technologically-driven contact tracing without spying on your everyday actions.
Last year Canadians witnessed too many data breaches of their data and the federal government is reacting. Large Canadian corporations didn’t do enough to protect their databases against attackers and as a result personal data of Canadians is now in the hands of criminals. Canada will now follow the lead of Europe and other jurisdictions by holding corporations financially responsible for any future breaches. This should help force companies to respect their customers.
“It will be significant and meaningful to make it very clear that privacy is important. Compensation, of course, is one aspect of it,” said Bains, adding that the government also wants “to demonstrate to businesses very clearly that there are going to be significant penalties for non-compliance with the law. That’s really my primary goal.”
Statistics Canada says that about 57 per cent of Canadians online reported experiencing a cyber security incident in 2018.
Ryan Berger, a privacy lawyer with Lawson Lundell in Vancouver, said legislating compensation could get private companies to start taking privacy more seriously.
“It will incentivize organizations … to take steps to protect that information and ensure that, for instance, health information is encrypted,” he said.
“So right now, there aren’t the sorts of financial implications for them if they fail to do that.”