Time to really start caring
As Facebook begins to notify people affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the mainstream media is perking up its interest in the story again. But I don’t think enough of being made of the fact that the ‘87 million people affected’ figure only relates to this specific case.
As I’ve previously noted in this newsletter, many more people will have had their data harvested by other apps, because they or their friends connected Facebook apps a few years ago. While Facebook says it’s auditing who may have got downloaded such data (and indeed it suspended one such firm at the weekend), the data has been out there for a long time… and who knows what’s happened to it?
“What can people do?,” a radio producer called to ask me yesterday. The answer? Not a lot, really. You can’t pull that data back in now it’s gone.
For the past few years, I’ve been hoping that each new year will be the year when people really start caring about their personal data. But it never really happens. Another 'biggest breach ever’ happens (in Facebook’s case, a breach of trust rather than security) and everyone shrugs and gets on with their lives.
Fair enough, to an extent. Once the data’s gone, it’s gone and all you can do is hope it’s not used in ways that really hurt you in years to come.
But you can start caring, you can get angry… You can show people who design the systems that share and store our data that you’re not going to accept it anymore. I feel we’re slowing inching towards that position, and the EU’s GDPR rules will help, but only when we really want better systems that really give us control over our data will we get them.