Technology in the Modern Age: Data Privacy Discussion

Technology has become a fundamental feature of social life in Western society, and technology companies continue to evolve the ways in which we interact with technology. Recently Big Data, the art of collecting and analyzing massive stockpiles of business data, has become the next evolution of technology. As technology companies continue to amass our data as citizens, its important to consider the ramifications of mass data collection from every source of technology. In today’s time all websites collect user data to learn what devices an individual uses, and websites monitor user interest and preferences to suggest more relevant information and products for the consumer. Data privacy and companies data compliance to data privacy laws has become a major area of concern regarding the interaction between technology companies and their consumer base. There are a list of tradeoffs and benefits that come to mind when considering the impact of data collection and data privacy. With heavy data collection, companies are better able to recommend relevant products to consumers that may be able to assist the user in finding a product to better their quality of life. On the other hand, this also means that companies are able to market better to consumers for products they don’t need, or products that would not benefit the consumer’s quality of life. Ultimately, the debate on the benefits and drawbacks of data collection is mostly mute; the importance of the discussion stems from how much the end user consumer is willing to give up regarding their individual privacy on the internet.

On a personal level, I’m willing to let companies track my data when I allow the action of data collection. One policy I’ve seen that became enacted in America for sites is the option to allow or disallow cookies. Cookies are session token which allow websites to track a user, or in other words to store the device and account information from users on a particular website’s database. I think this policy of allowing individual’s that access the web to choose how much data they wish to share is the correct one. Each time I access the web I want to be able to select how much of my data I want to share, from my unencrypted IP address, my network traffic, my device make and model number, etc. I think the question of how much of my privacy I’m willing to surrender varies case by case, and I would like to address that question on a case by case basis.

In terms of rewards, I would like the the recommendations to be personalized as much as I allow. Maybe there could even be an interface to allow the user to input what sorts of recommendation the user would like to see, but this would take some advancement in understanding the sentiment for user request (which is possible through machine learning algorithms). Ultimately, this question of privacy comes down to facilitating personal choices in the realm of data collection, and I believe by making a system which can robustly generate content based on user preferences but which respects user privacy in a consensual manner will allows for the befits of technology with only consensual drawbacks, which ultimately gives users the choice in how they want to interact with the technological world in the modern age.

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