We live in an age of data and information overflow where everything about us and around us is converted into data and information. These data are used by various entities for good as well as bad purposes. On any cases, Data is always considered as a powerful tool to obtain and accumulate power and wealth. We ,as an individual view our bank balance, movable and immovable properties as beacon of our wealth. Have we ever thought our data as our wealth? Multi million billion corporations and governments use our wealth (data) to increase their wealth whereas the real owner of the data is left out of this wealth creation. Our data should help us elevate ourselves rather be used to exploit us .We give permission to every damn app to access our data (photos, videos, documents, contacts, location etc.).Do we care what they do with our data? Most probably no. The “They” can be anybody; multinational companies, governments, political parties, sport clubs, TV channels and so on.
Everything in our life involve some kind of trade-off. We get nothing without giving anything back. You give something to get something. We expect the trade-off to be equally beneficial for you and the receiver. But is it really happening in real world? We share our personal details (parents, friends, relatives, colleagues) our likes, dislikes, favourites, ideas and so many other valuable things. These valuable things are monetized by many except us.
Our data in Government’s Hand: On a positive note, governments can provide better healthcare and social services with the data they collect from their citizens. It can reduce the cases of frauds and mis-allocation of funds. These positive features can be applicable to any form of government whether it is democratic or authoritarian .On a negative note, governments can prosecute, punish and alienate citizens for their anti-government ideas and policies. The notion of free speech and liberty will be considered as traitorous .Governments on most occasions ill-equipped to safeguard their citizen’s data. For example, Government of India was even unable to promise the protection of Aadhar card details when questioned by Supreme Court of India on protection of such data.
Our data in Corporate’s hand: Again on positive note, Corporate with our data can provide better personalized services keeping our preference, interest and desires first. They may or may not consider the healthiness in your choices. On a negative note, Corporate can exploit us for their monetary benefits. They will start to influence our thinking and our action too. It may not stop with what we consume or what we buy. It will get into all spheres of our life from teeny-tiny decision to big life-altering decisions.
Our data in the hands of individuals is not as welcoming as with government or corporate companies. We read news of individuals (computer hackers, government officials and many others) selling confidential information of people which they collect by hacking into social networking sites (eg. Facebook) and government sites (eg. UIDAI-Aadhar card ).The ways and means by which these kind of thefts happening ,are getting more and more sophisticated and complicate for law enforcement agencies to fight it.The need for protection of our data is growing day by day. Governments of the world are also bringing new laws or amending their existing laws to protect their citizen’s data and punish the perpetrators of these crimes. Governments should also put safeguard such that the law enforcers should not become law-abusers.
The prime question of this article is,” Can we monetize our data without losing its integrity?” .In this age of information, everything is about data and it’s growth has no limits and boundaries. As much as it can enhance your life, so can it destroy it completely? We should consider all situations (both boom and gloom) prepare ourselves for it.