3 Ways Your Data is Being Used Against You — And What to Do About It

No one wants to be thought of as just a number. However, in this digital age, many of us now know that our online habits and personalities amount to just a numbered account or entry on Facebook’s servers. In return for sharing this information about us, we receive personalized products and services, recommendations, and experiences that will supposedly enrich our lives.

It’s become so common to give certain personal details that apps now exist to help you automatically enter things like your name, address and payment details. This way you don’t have to type those details every time you download or purchase something. Last year, a pop-up shop in London took personal data as payment, which illustrates just how much companies value this information.

Yet, there’s another side to all this data that we don’t always think about. All that data you so willingly share is sometimes being used against you. Here are three ways data share is controlling you, how it’s happening, and how to stop them – so there is no longer a target on your digital data.

Snooping and Stalking

You may want to think about what you look at and say online — because some of the big tech companies that you trust know more about you than you realize. This includes Google and Facebook and many other sites.

While you may already know Google collects and sells data, the information goes deeper than just the basics.  Google amasses data on your web searches and even the routes you take on Google Maps — as well as what you do on devices signed into your Google account.

The Washington Post listed 98 data points that Facebook collects about each of its users.  After the recent Cambridge Analytics scandal, Facebook has worked tirelessly to try to win back the trust of its users, finally sharing ways you can take more control over what data the social network can use.

Although it’s time-consuming, there are ways to stop companies from doing whatever they want with your data. For example, CNBC provided a comprehensive guide help you stop Google from tracking your every movement. This includes tools that let you turn off information you don’t want recorded. Additionally, Facebook’s help guide now offers specific instructions and explanations about data usage and how to regain your privacy.

Court System

Data has become so valuable that it is now being used as evidence in the courtroom. For example, FitBit data was recently used to prove a woman lied about her sexual assault. This woman and others did not realize that data about their movements and physical activity is legally accessible by the criminal justice system for use in cases. This includes access to prove or disprove any and all claims.

In 2016 Apple refused to provide access to data on one of its devices after it was used by a terrorist. The FBI found a way to get to the data it needed to move ahead with its investigation. How they accessed that information was never released to the public.

Congress has yet to update the Electronic Communication Privacy Act to provide digital due process when it comes to our data, including an unsigned Email Privacy Act.

As the aforementioned Huffington Post article noted, there may come a day where the Miranda Warning that police utter during an arrest is updated to:

“Anything your data says you did may be used against you in a court of law.”

When it comes to how your data is used against you, perhaps the best advice is to think carefully about how you do something — what you do — and especially what you say. These can all come back to haunt you.

Machine Learning

Besides selling your data, Facebook has been hard at work doing other things with your personal data. The company has undertaken a massive AI project that includes utilizing photos across profiles to implement machine learning capabilities. The intent (supposedly) with this project is to improve the Facebook ad experience and other functions. Meanwhile, the AI continues to learn more about who each person is as an individual.

Other companies like Yelp are using machine learning to better organize and label the millions of pictures that users post on reviews. This task would be nearly impossible for humans to do at scale.

The company explained, “One way we’re trying to open that window is by developing a photo understanding system which allows us to create semantic data about individual photographs. The data generated by the system has been powering our recent launch of tabbed photo browsing as well as our first attempts at content-based photo diversification.” What exactly does that mean to you?

Although someone with little understanding might consider that both of these cases are not necessarily bad or intrusive — this cannot be established as fact yet.

It’s important to consider that your personal data and memories are being used by companies. As long as we all continue posting images on our sites (which we will — you know we will), Then we will have to be comfortable with how companies are using this info. If you are not comfortable with the usage — then it’s time to think of another way to share your digital life with others.

Control Your Digital Life

This is where Amber comes in. It is your all-in-one smart storage platform. Not only does it give you control of your own data, but it serves as your own digital time capsule – giving you all the convenience of the cloud in the privacy of your home.

You access your files and can even stream them using the app, which connects to the device through our proprietary cloud service, LatticeNest. This personal hybrid cloud provides User Identity Management and Data Routing Verification only – ensuring your digital assets are always private and protected, unlike any other public cloud service available on the market today.

Man using laptop with Amber

Get the privacy you need with the ease and security you deserve. There are subscriptions for everything now – your memories should not be one of them.

To learn more about Amber, click here.