January 28: International Day of Personal Data Protection


    Today is the International Day for the Protection of Personal Data. It was established in 2006 to promote privacy and the best ways to protect data, especially in the context of social networks.

    Until now, millions of people do not know how their information is collected, stored and used by commercial companies. They do not know that Russian providers will soon start recording all traffic, and cellular operators - all subscribers' conversations , that the only protection is strong cryptography, HTTPS and end-to-end encryption.

    What needs to be done today?


    Today is the best day to:


    Of course, this is not a complete list of protective measures. The main thing - to explain to your loved ones that you need to behave carefully on the Internet. After all, many do not even understand the potential danger and easily give consent to the collection of personal information.

    We are obliged to help these people. At least install an ad blocker. And to tell that even trivial likes allow attackers to create an accurate personal profile , including a person’s sexual preferences, political preferences, and other interests that he would like to hide. Once having got to advertisers and the government, a personal profile remains with them forever , is automatically processed, used for targeted advertising and other manipulations. What this may lead in the future - no one knows.


    A person actually loses control over his life: he no longer knows where he makes decisions, and where he is pushed to the “right” choice, what goods and services he really needs, and what he has been given him by analyzing his personal profile.
    In the past few decades, data trade has steadily expanded. In 2014, ProPublica published an extensive study of various information about individual citizens that companies buy and sell. The private data trade is so advanced that the stories seem almost fictional. Lists of readers of love stories are on sale. Lists of those who donated to international charities. Divorced. Equifax Credit Bureau receives payroll data from many companies in exchange for employment verification services. And so on. If your brain is able to come up with some kind of list - almost certainly there is a source of data for this that someone is selling and buying.

    Correlations have also become more complex. Venture investor Benedict Evans recently convincingly proved that machine learning can in the future have a strong impact on human life, just like relational databases in the early 1970s. At first glance, strange connections are actually “outliers,” because it is them that we notice. How about everything else that goes unnoticed and binds behavior in ways people don’t even imagine? These are the connections that promises to find machine learning. - “Welcome to the era of privacy nihilism” , Jan Bogost
    A person buys things, the existence of which yesterday did not know. Advertisers are beginning to model the new needs of people and convince them of this. In the future, the processing of personal profiles may develop to such a level that companies and governments will begin to predict the response of a particular audience to every action. This is a direct path to the manipulation of public opinion - and all thanks to private data, which we now voluntarily give to open access.
    We have come to the fact that companies have such a volume of data that they can no longer predict the long-term consequences of such centralization . Therefore, it is unreasonable to continue to rely on “informed consent” as a pretext, since no one can understand what ultimately lead to the rejection of control over small or large pieces of its data. - “Re-decentralization of the web. This time forever " , Ruben Verborg
    Data Protection Day (or Data Privacy Day, DPD) was originally established in the European Union in 2006. The date was timed to the anniversary of the signing of the Council of Europe Convention of January 28, 1981 on the Protection of Persons in Connection with the Automated Processing of Personal Data. She for the first time defined international obligations to protect personal data and privacy rights.

    Now the problem of personal data protection is more relevant than ever, so DPD is celebrated around the world. To date, more than 50 countries have signed the Personal Data Protection Convention ( Convention 108 ). Now the text of this document is aligned with the existing realities of the Internet.

    How it all started


    The collection of personal data for commercial use is far from a new problem, as Jan Bogost writes in the article “Welcome to the era of privacy nihilism” quoted above .. In fact, the term “business analyst” was introduced back in 1865, in Richard Miller Devens's book Encyclopedia of Commercial and Business Stories (Cyclopaedia of Commercial and Business Anecdotes). From the 17th century, Devens studied how merchants and bankers benefit from access to information (about war, rivals, weather, and so on). Almost a century later, in 1958, IBM engineer Hans Peter Lun adapted this concept for the information age. By that time, IBM machines had facilitated business analytics, but Loon identified the most intractable problems: receiving and storing data is only the beginning, they need to be extracted and analyzed.

    The most significant progress was made in 1969, when computer scientist Edgar F. Codd, also from IBM, developed a new paradigm for data storage and processing. Codd's “relational model” was soon embodied in software products known as relational databases, which since 1978 have been sold by IBM and others. Relational databases make it easy to query for large and diverse data sets. Sales can be analyzed by region and supplier. Rate conversion for potential customers. Individual actions of specific customers can be combined into templates. And all this is done quickly, with the connection of the latest information.

    After that, almost all the essential corporate programs of the next decade — most of which ordinary people never thought of or saw — were built on the idea of ​​relational databases. Oracle has been selling its popular software since 1979. These products are still relevant. Customer relationship management software tracks sales and marketing activities. Since the 1980s, companies have been using these systems to store information about who you are and what you do.

    It's time to act


    For a long time, this information has been scattered across different repositories. Your bank or your car manufacturer may know how much money you have or what kind of car you drive, but the data is isolated in separate systems in individual organizations. But then organizations found ways to collect and recombine information of all kinds. Now the data is accumulated in several centralized repositories, so that the situation becomes rampant.

    What we can do? How to solve the problem with the protection of personal data in an environment where digital technologies are increasingly penetrating our lives? Perhaps absolute protection is impossible. But we can at least understand the problem and minimize the damage.

    Today is a good day to take a few steps in the right direction. Start by installing an ad blocker and changing privacy settings on social networks. This is the simplest thing that anyone can do.




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