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Digital Life: Nothing to hide, nothing to fear? It is not so simple 

By openly exposing yourself you are also exposing others around you.

You have endless things to hide and endless things to fear, and the fact that you don’t go around publishing your passwords or distributing copies of your house keys is proof of that.

That doesn’t convince you? There’s still more. Privacy matters because the lack of it gives others power over you. 

From this point of view, the value of privacy is increasingly visible in the sphere of our lives even if you consider yourself a nobody.

Think about this: If you weren’t important, businesses and governments wouldn’t be trying so hard to spy on you. Do you still think you have nothing to fear?

If you still think so, you are wrong, unless you are an exhibitionist with masochistic desires to suffer identity theft, unemployment, public humiliation and totalitarianism.

The problem is not in the monetary value of the data. Technically, Facebook doesn’t sell your data and neither does Google.

What both companies and others like Apple and Twitter sell are their power over you, their ability to show you ads and their ability to predict your behavior. 

Google and Facebook are not in the data business. They are in the power business.

Power molds us, it can awaken in our needs that go against our interests, and the more invisible those means of power are, the more powerful they will be.

An example of this is that, for example, technology companies use studies on the effects of dopamine to become addicted to an app.

Theirs is not economic or political power, but it can be transformed into both. It is the result of knowing what keeps us awake at night, what we want and what we are thinking of doing.

Power over the privacy of others is the quintessence of power in the digital age.

So, what can we do now about it? 

French philosopher Michel Foucault, claimed that power builds us, and we have the possibility to resist it when it is used against us to then build ourselves.

Technology companies are nothing without our data. A bit of regulation, some citizen resistance, some businesses starting to offer privacy as a competitive advantage, and the power companies like Facebook and Google hold can evaporate.

If they were so sure of the value of their products for the good of users and society, they would not have to work so hard to lobby.

Against these threats, the best prescription is resistance. It is not realistic to expect us to abandon the use of technologies that permeate our routine so deeply.

On the other hand, we can respect the privacy of those around us. 

  • Do not expose people online, unless and / or despite them giving you permission. 
  • Do not record or photograph anyone without their consent
  • Do not share so many images online

In cases where an entity asks us for data that it would not have to need, imagine this: 

Someone comes up to you in a bar and asks your phone and he doesn’t accept a no for an answer. What would you do? Maybe you would be tempted to give him a fake number, or a fake email.

Giving false names is only one of the tools: we can also use privacy extensions in internet browsers and disconnect the networks from our devices when we do not need them. 

Never do one of those DNA tests that ensure we will find out lineage. That is like opening the door of your bedroom to a company that in addition to your name and address will have your very fabric.

Privacy is not just your thing. It is personal and collective. When you expose your privacy you put us all in danger.

The power of privacy is necessary for democracy. As long as we keep it, we can vote according to our beliefs and without external pressures, we can start protests anonymously and without fearing repercussions.

Privacy is important because it empowers people. Protect it.

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About the author: Luis R. Miranda

Luis R. Miranda is an award-winning journalist and the founder & editor of The Real Agenda News. His career spans over 23 years in every form of news media. He writes about environmentalism, education, technology, science, health, immigration and other current affairs. Luis has worked as on-air talent, news reporter, television producer, and news writer.

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