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What if there were no privacy laws?

By 27th January 2023Blog

Did you know that the right to privacy in the digital world is a human right? Still, many people lack knowledge about how their personal data is being collected, used, and shared. Data Protection Day is recognised internationally on January 28th each year to promote privacy and raise awareness on best practices when it comes to data protection. The goal of this day is to inspire people to take action to better protect their personal information online, especially on social media.

We’re lucky to have all our personal data protected by the GDPR but what is the alternate reality? Judging by what happens in countries with weaker or no privacy laws, the main threats are extensive surveillance, uncontrolled profiling and lack of transparency with regards to personal data processing.

Surveillance may be mostly associated with CCTV monitoring, widely used for security reasons but it may go as far as including facial recognition technology, mobile phone data (e.g. personal data from various apps), social media information, travel data and contacts. When such data is combined it can be used for discriminatory reasons, in China they are building a surveillance system with face scanning technology to classify journalists using a traffic light system. Journalists in the ‘red’ category are to be ‘dealt with accordingly’.

Similarly, profiling, when applied with our consent or acknowledgment, may actually enhance our user experience (e.g. Netflix or Spotify). In contrast, when profiling includes individual’s racial or ethnic origin, health status, sexual orientation and social status, it may lead, through AI-driven behavioural analysis, to discrimination. An algorithm may even decide to decline you a job offer, loan or mortgage.

How can you become better at protecting your data?

As an individual, it is important to make informed and educated decisions when sharing your personal data. Your personal data such as age, gender, purchase history, and location have great value. It’s important to keep that in mind when deciding what you share and with whom.

The same goes for downloading an app: you’re often required to give the app owner access to certain information to use it. This can be your list of contacts, location, health data, photos, and microphone. Sometimes, this isn’t relevant to the service being offered. Consider what you’re comfortable with sharing and manage your privacy settings.

At Atalian Servest we are committed to safeguarding the data we are trusted with from our employees and clients. We comply with all relevant data protection legislation including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

– Sara Taylor, Data Protection Officer

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