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We are data

We are data. In bits and bytes, we are the websites we surf, the comments we leave, the texts we send, the social networks we log on to, the videos we forward, the bills we pay, the subsidies we receive, the advertisements we click on. As more people and devices connect to the internet, it is inevitable that more of what we do will get digitised, collected and stored: what we eat, when we leave home, which flights we prefer, what time we go for a run or hit the gym. Some of this data we give voluntarily—for subsidies and benefits, or even to health apps, for monitoring and assessing our performance. Some of it we give without realising: for example, details of where we are when we update Facebook, whose profile we check on the sly. Some of it we would never want anyone to get access to, which might make us vulnerable: the illnesses we carry, the people we flirt with, the things we bitch about, what we message our lawyers and doctors about. We are data. The argument I hear most frequently about privacy is that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. This is far too simplistic an approach, because the lack of privacy impacts vulnerable communities the most: it could be a friend from the LGBT community who wants to discuss about coming out; a student contemplating suicide; or someone who’s facing sexual harassment at the workplace and wants to discuss…

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

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