The personal data that is being collected by internet companies has turned into a goldmine. The applications for this enormous mountain of data is endless, from health care uses to marketeers who can accurately predict your behaviour. But who is making money from your data? And who owns your personal data?
Personal data is being collected constantly. Smartphones send your location data, internet browsers store which websites you visited and credit card companies carefully register you’re buying patterns. One would say that all this personal data is being used to send you advertisements and banners. But that’s just the start. Your data is not only used to understand who you are right now, but also what your life will look like in the future, because that is where the big money is. Could we regain the control over our own personal data, so that we can share in the profits?
Due to huge flow of information, one can tell who we are today and what we will do tomorrow. Can we get control of our own data?
Information is collected and stored on your behalf. Via mobile phone and computer, every step you take is saved and analysed. By companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and Twitter, among others. This precious personal data is not just saved. There are now new valuable uses for your data, giving your personal data the worth of gold.
Data centres full of your personal data are the heart of what is called Big Data. A treasure of valuable new insights, derived from your location data, emails, photos, text messages, and more from your digital production. Because your personal data is not only used to send customised ads.
Your data is used to predict your future behaviour. Through smart analyses of all your behaviour that you leave behind on your mobile phone and computer, it’s easy to find out who you are. And that’s not that hard, it turns out. For example, the University of Cambridge just by looking at which buttons you click on Facebook, can see if your parents are divorced, whether you are gay, and so on.
Predicting human behaviour, possible thanks to all your personal data, can help to design cities better, combat diseases and prevent wars. But if all of your personal data is so valuable, then shouldn’t it be time for you to get control of it? And also take part of that profit for yourself?
Originally broadcasted by VPRO in 2013.