It’s not about judgement, it’s about patterns…

The Financial Times in the UK has released a brilliant short film that summarizes nearly everything that is wrong with the current data use and privacy landscape. If you watch only one video on such a topic, it should be this:

The film does an excellent job of presenting the highly possible ‘existential threat’. The argument many people make when they freely and unwittingly cede control of their data is simply “I don’t mind a few targeted adverts, in fact they are quite handy. Besides, I’ve got nothing to hide”.

Unfortunately that misses a couple of quite serious points. 

Firstly, as the film alludes to, data sharing partnerships are increasingly twisting the context in which your data is being used. You might have been ok with a shoe brand knowing the size of your feet, but do you actually know where else that data goes and how it is being used to corroborate a narrative about you? The example given in the film about health data isn’t fiction – this is a real issue in the United Kingdom right now [1].

Secondly, the immutability of your shared data. Once it is created it is copied and stored all over the internet. You might be able to request deletion of data in some jurisdictions – if you can work out where it is and who holds it that is. Taking the example above, how would you go about determining who holds data on your shoe size? 

And herein lies the kicker: right now that data you let go might only mean a few more targeted adverts. But that data will sit there. And be added to. And the agenda of those looking at it may change. From adverts to… well the film presents a great example.

As the female character in the film poignantly asks: “Where is my control and agency”? And while the film paints a near future dystopia, we believe that question needs answering today.

Share your thoughts below – we’d love to hear your take on it! Would you be ok with such a future?

Further reading

  1. https://www.cityam.com/over-40-pharma-and-data-firms-have-had-access-to-nhs-patient-data-for-years-analysis-finds/
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Dan
9 months ago

That was like watching an episode of Black Mirror. It seems fantasy and far fetched, but it’s a scary possible reality.