Your Data, Your Privacy and The Metaverse

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ACCESS TO OUR DATA COSTS META $232 BILLION

Last week we celebrated Data Protection Day, an international event that has been gaining momentum year over year. First initiated by the European Council in 2007, data protection has become an increasingly important topic. How so? Well, let’s fast forward to this week when Meta’s (aka Facebook) company valuation fell $232 Billion and set the record for largest one-day value drop in stock market history. The driving force for the market’s reaction? A statement from Meta’s CFO, David Wehner, who called out Apple’s iOS privacy changes. Facebook’s decline came after it reported weaker-than-expected first-quarter revenue Wednesday due to its struggle to contain the damage from Apple’s iOS privacy changes called App Tracking Transparency (ATT). But the damage wasn’t just contained to Meta. Apple’s push toward putting privacy back in the hands of consumers also took a $10 billion bite out of Meta’s revenue enveloped the social network’s peers as well including Twitter, Snap and Pinterest. According to Technology Editor, Daniel Howley with Yahoo Finance, “Apple introduced ATT in iOS 14.5 in April 2021. The feature allows users to choose if they want their apps to track their activity across the web via a piece of Apple-built software called IDFA, or Identifier for Advertisers. IDFA is a randomized identifier that lets apps determine what you’ve been browsing across websites and other apps. And it’s an incredibly helpful tool for companies like Meta and Snap.” This means that these platforms, and their impressive accurate ad tracking technologies, can no longer harvest data based on your daily browsing habits, behaviors, images, interests or other digital “fingerprints” you leave behind during the course of your day. Which is the equivalent of an iceberg hitting the Titanic, and the impact was felt across the globe by the stock market on Wednesday.

APPLE SALUTE TO DATA PRIVACY & CONTROL

We salute Apple for giving consumers the power to utilize their technology without any longer having to sacrifice privacy through the apps that were designed to help make our lives “easier” and more “productive”. However, as our CEO, Pantas Sutardja, says “there is no free lunch”. For nearly 15-years, since the first iPhone launched in 2007, we have progressively been handing over more and more personal identifiable information to 3rd parties that have taken advantage of our data and found ways to use it against us. As Wired Magazine’s 2019 report highlighted: “American companies spent an estimated $19 billion obtaining and interpreting consumer data”. This simply means our data is a commodity to be sold for advertising and that privacy is no longer a given. Apple is taking some right steps to un-do over a decade of damage, but what about all the data floating across clouds and services that are already out there? In the so-called “metaverse”, that Mark Zuckerburg (and the like) hope will merge our digital life with real life. A scary notion, isn’t it?

BE FRUGAL WITH YOUR DATA

When talking about data protection and privacy, it is very common to raise the topic of encryption, either of data at rest or in transit. But a term you rarely hear is “data frugality” – which simply means data you do not need or use. An example of this would be, when you visit a website or install a new app and are prompted to accept a cookie policy, share your location or sign up for a newsletter. We need to think twice about being “frugal” with what we sign-up for and question why companies need to scrape together so much information. It’s easy to assume that our data is secure and encrypted. But, unfortunately it is NOT. Public cloud services like Google have massive amounts of data gathering abilities, for better or for worse. In some applications, giving up data in exchange for better personalization might be worthwhile. But, Google’s privacy policy is massive and depending on the type of data you’re storing, you might not want it to be accessed by Google and used to build an algorithm.

CLOUDS HAVE A COST

Ultimately, when you’re using a service that provides storage or cloud space for free, you’re giving up data and personal information. Once that data is harvested, it’s difficult to control how it’s used, stored, or deleted later on. In fact, many users of Flickr found that their photos were uploaded to MegaFace, a facial recognition database that trained algorithms used by law enforcement to track protesters and spy on the public at large. Many of these photos were uploaded without consent, even though users had kept their photos private. The bottom line is that when it comes to data protection, there is no perfect cloud or platform and none of them have been engineered with a privacy-first philosophy. Until now.

OWN YOUR DATA

Owning your own data, at least the most important aspects of it, has never been easier. With Amber X, we put you in control over your data with visibility into how it’s used (all with your explicit permission). Our personal hybrid cloud gives you access to your digital assets on your terms and you can share what you’ve uploaded with who you want, when you want. And, you’ll receive free upgrades without a costly monthly subscription fee. Whether you’re tech savvy or a tech novice, Amber X gives you the opportunity to pull away from “Big Tech” corporations and start taking back control of your data. Learn more about Amber X on our website and see our 5-star reviews on Amazon.

Image Credit: JD Lasica from Pleasanton, CA, US, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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