Monday, 5 august 2019 | Redacción CEU
Can you imagine someone constantly knowing what your mood is, where you are, who you are with or what the last purchase you made was? That person would at least disturb you. Users throughout the world generate approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data per day on the Internet, but are they aware of who owns their data and what it is used for? Cases like Cambridge Analytica or Ashley Madison have been crucial to raise awareness about the real value of data. Data has become one of the greatest assets of the 21st century, since, with them, you can predict trends, improve strategies and design ads, but they can also be used for bad purposes such as cybercrime or the dissemination of fake news. Are we prepared to protect our privacy in our daily network activity? Are companies prepared to ensure the protection of our data?
Just a few weeks ago, FaceApp became the trendiest application. Millions of users could use it and check what they would look like in the next decades thanks to its "aging filter". It was a curious and realistic entertainment that aroused great interest among users and, as a consequence, it led to its quickly viralization. However, a short time later, the controversy broke out.
As the ABC newspaper explains in a detailed article, the debate arose as a result of the fact that FaceApp, the rest of the companies of the Wireless Lab group (the firm behind the well-known application) and its affiliates reserved the right to use the information that users provide, as well as the pictures they edit. This information could be used for commercial purposes, although the members of the app claimed they would not sell this data to third parties without their users' consent. This controversial and questionable transfer of data has reopened the debate about how data is being used on the network and where the limits of privacy should be set.
Situations like this could be avoided in part if, before using an app or social networking site, users read the terms and conditions of use carefully. The problem is that the "small print" of these services is usually long, boring and complex –despite the fact that the current General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) forces these texts to be more understandable–. Hence, most users end up getting carried away by their confidence and do not reflect wisely on the implications of the registration or use of this type of digital services. Unfortunately, some companies do not comply with the legal requirements of data processing and, when they do it, users often disagree with their policies, but they are simply in the dark about it.