Your private data is somebody else’s asset

May 5, 2020

It has been a while since I turned on my computer.  Lately, I have been annoyed by how companies and governments collect people’s personal information. Either people are not aware of it or they are too naive to see the consequences of exposing their personal information to the public.   After living in China for a year, I learned the value of protecting privacy and freedom, which is the opposite of not being controlled willingly or being manipulated.

 

The more I think about data and how it affects our lives, I realized that data will be more valuable than money, oil, gold, or other precious metals in the future.  Technologists are racing to build the best Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems.  Whoever has the most data will win this race. 

In China, it’s a fact that the Chinese government collects data from its citizens and anybody who steps on their soil. Whether you are at the airport, train station or a public place, you know that you are being watched because you see cameras and CCTVs everywhere.  Also, mobile phones are connected to your national ID or passport which are being tracked and monitored.  As a foreigner living and traveling in China, you have to register with the local police. The internet and social media are tightly controlled by the government.

 

In the U.S, the land of freedom and liberty, we have many rights and are protected by the constitution.  Lately I feel that our rights are slowly being taken away because the internet and social media are collecting people’s personal information and sharing it for profit. And also they are controlling and manipulating people’s behavior using these data. The government can’t and wouldn’t do anything because the policies have loopholes and those in power are corrupted by greed. 

 

So what is the solution to this problem?  Although implementing stricter government policies and regulations to protect data privacy helps, I think the key solution is to fight greed.  Greed is a social behavior problem and it exists in all forms:  government, corporate, and the everyday world. As Aristotle said, “Greed has no boundaries.”

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