Your data for sale (Part 1)
Published On January 25, 2023 » 565 Views» By Times Reporter » Features
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IN the recent past, and even this time, whenever you visit some places, either public or private, you are required to fill in a kind of book normally referred to as visitors register.
You fill in the date of the visit, time, national registration card or national identity number, contact number, address, the purpose of the visit and other details.
When you go on the Internet and want to download or access a website, it is now very common to be required to subscribe by registering with your personal details.
There are also cookies that will require that you accept for you to access the information.
Coming to your smart phone, an android operating system, almost all the apps on your phone will ask you to access your contacts or phone book, photos, videos, camera, microphone, and many others.
Some apps go to the extent of accessing everything.
The examples given above show how data is given up into the hands of individuals and large multimillion-dollar companies.
This usually happens when you want to use a particular service or product.
Your data is valuable.The aim of this article is to help you understand the value of the data about you and how it makes others profile it for sale.
At the end of the article, you will choose to take responsible actions as you navigate through the Internet and interact with other social media apps.
And you have probably heard many stories in the news about how your data is being sold for big money by search engines and social media. In 2018, it was discovered that Cambridge Analytica had harvested the data of at least 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge after obtaining it through a few thousand accounts that had used a quiz app.
Online data collection is insidious and continuous.
Today, more data can be collected than ever before; people create as much data every two days as they did from the beginning of time until the year 2000. When looked at on this scale, personal data might seem innocuous.
Companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon have paid extraordinary amounts in fines and reputational hits to gain access to this sort of valuable data. Data collected by Facebook through the use of programmes such as Onavo and Facebook Research- which paid teenagers and others for near limitless access to their data- led to the discovery that WhatsApp was used more than twice as often as Messenger, giving Facebook the impetus to purchase WhatsApp in 2014.
This proved to be extremely valuable.
The Cambridge dictionary defines data as information, especially facts or numbers, collected to be examined and considered and used to help decision-making or information in electronic form that can be stored and used by a computer.
According to the Oxford dictionary, “data is distinct pieces of information, usually formatted in a special way”.
Everything about you is data.
Institutions are no longer only interested in your personally identifiable information but everything.
This data is no longer only traded in the dark web but you give it away voluntarily.
Every institution will tell you that information collected about you will not be shared with third parties.
Yes, legally they are not allowed to share that information.
On the other side, the information gathered about you can be collected by a government and used for any reason.
Sorry, how and what governments use your data for is not a part of this conversation.
Your data is valuable.
Look at this.
Data business has made a lot of companies very rich across the globe. Do your own research and you will easily know these companies.
Many people usually think data is sold down to hackers who also hacked that data from somewhere.
In the local context, you will remember that at one point you went to some place where you left your details and did not care to ask how that data would be used for or disposed of. In that big register or school textbook where you left your information to a security guard, it was left open for anyone to read.
The next day or week, you received a call from someone asking you to verify your personal details.
This has been hard for digital financial service providers.
Do these scammers get information from the “know your customer”?
Do they hack the banking systems?
Do they hack your service providers’ systems?
Please read the next lines.
The focus of the conversation is not to dwell so much on how data is stolen from the dark web and sold there.
It is the data you share voluntarily through different ways such as mobile device applications, websites, downloads and others.
Researchers claim that data brokers can create an accurate profile of you even when you try to minimise your online footprint
Data brokers are companies that collect and sell information about consumers to other data brokers or individual companies.
Data brokers collect information from everywhere they can, including public records, commercial sources, and web browsing.
They then collate that data into a profile.
According to CBS News, data brokers are collecting, analysing and packaging some of our most sensitive personal information and selling it as a commodity to each other, to advertisers, even the government, often without our direct knowledge.
Much of this is the kind of harmless consumer marketing that has been going on for decades. What has changed is the volume and nature of the data being mined from the Internet and our mobile devices, and the growth of a multibillion dollar industry that operates in the shadows with virtually no oversight. Look out for part two in which we will continue to look at some reports and, discuss how your data is profiled and, finally, how you can protect yourself.
The author is a speaker, mentor, educator, trainer, professional and community leader, information technology service deliverer and an expert in cyber security. For comments email:;

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