Privacy is Power

Designing a future in the presence of mass data collection.

Alexandra Grisanti

12/20/20221 min read

Privacy is a complex topic that varies between individual preferences. Data is intimately linked with privacy. A piece of data is a piece of information about someone or something. My location is data. My income, credit score, transaction history, contacts in my phone, people I talk to regularly, all of these pieces of information are personal data. The data can be collected and used in algorithms to interpret me, as a person.

Data is also what makes technology easy to use. Companies want better data to understand their performance, to understand their customers and become more efficient. Financial institutions are very interested in data, as it relates to credit assessment, ranking risk in loaning to a business etc.

This topic is complicated and is ever-changing with new laws in place to protect people’s privacy. A few meta topics and issues that directly relate to data collection and privacy:

  • Mass Surveillance and Smart Cities, location tracking, biometric tracking

  • Inequality and competition between individuals via Credit Scoring

  • Increased competition and vulnerability for jobseekers.

  • Data fueling credit score and determining the economic outcomes for an individual

  • Authoritarian governments using Credit Scoring to control individuals by docking credit when unwanted behavior takes place

  • Creating addictive social media platforms/games by using personal data to know exactly what interests the individual and keeping them on the platform

  • Lowers the ability to have adverse opinions and therefor harms the open dialog required for functioning democracy

Where data is the new commodity that is valued higher than oil, data is power. Data that a business or individual creates is complex. This topic is new and evolving but requires advocates, designers and lawmakers to determine what the future will look like in the world of mass data creation.