Imagine a world where blood sucking corporations were in constant pursuit of our trail. Imagine that the closer they could get to you, the more money they would make. Imagine they were able to place a GPS tracker, watch every move we make, and witness every conversation we had. They can even predict our next move. WELCOME to the world of BIG DATA and DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS.
Across the world and concentrated heavily in the US, there are businesses set up solely to watch our movements and study our habits. There are devices designed to ensure the precise collection of every mark we make in the digital world. They are like stalkers lurking in the darkness, recording everything about our lives, to then hand over our personal information over to the highest bidder.
If we all believed that world existed, we would all be much more careful of leaving a digital footprint trail. The reality is that everyday, with every click of a button and stroke of a key, we are creating a lifetime of digital footprints. We are volunteering personal and private data along with giving up our right to privacy to exist in a more “convenient” world. In this digital world, the end user (us) searches for the easiest way through. The more convenient the internet becomes, the more invasive corporations are in our personal lives.
As a corporation, using data collectors, called aggregators results in a 200% increase in sales within a 6 month span. It is like pure gold. Collecting these digital footprints allows a corporation to specifically target each user. The aggregators collect strings of data from each website you visit, all of your personal information(name, age, gender, location, your most common websites (and any other website you have visited), and your social media posts. They are not only collecting your clicks, they are collecting your context.
THEY COLLECT LITERALLY EVERYTHING YOU HAVE DONE ONLINE. They have millions of digital files identifying your long path of digital footprints.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights offers everyone the “Right to Privacy”. Unfortunately for the internet, there is very little control, if none, over privacy laws protecting our personal information. Unlike tangible places in the world, the internet is global and there is no worldwide policy that addresses the right of digital citizens regarding their digital footprints. So there it is digital citizens, we are subject to a world where everything we do is being tracked by corporations and governments, with little control over what is done with our personal data. We are being watched by people we don’t have any relationship with and our most private data is available to anyone with enough money to hire these collectors. The internet is becoming more important in our daily existence and if we do not become educated about the moves we make in the digital world, all of our freedoms that we enjoy in the physical world will be at risk.
In the words of Plato, “Good people do not need laws to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around those laws.”
Next time you tweet, email, create a profile, or post a photo, remember that not everyone using this data has your best interest at heart. We will all die one day, but within the internet, our digital footprints will LAST FOREVER.