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Is there a better way to ensure online privacy?

How can consumers ensure their data is within their control? A new survey highlights the extent of the problem.

A man uses a laptop at a coffee shop in downtown Hanoi. - AFP
A man uses a laptop at a coffee shop in downtown Hanoi. - AFP

It has been widely reported, Apple’s iOS 15 update is making it much harder for marketers, newsletters and apps to track people. This which is a huge win for consumer privacy, but not a palatable situation for big companies. Data privacy and data control remain hot topics in the technology industry, one’s that data control and monetization platform Invisibly believes are very important.

For consumers, it is important to remember that nothing is free. Each time an app is downloaded or a free” email service (such as Gmail) is used, or working with a social network like Facebook, the price paid is personal data.

Often there is no simple way of knowing what happens to your data or with how much data is stored. This is because online privacy exists on a spectrum: some online entities gather and store more information than other platforms. Some platforms also repackage data and sell it on to other parties.

Measures to improve this situation are hampered by the absence of any single law regulating online privacy. Instead, a patchwork of national laws apply in relation to some forms of electronic communications. Even where laws exist, enforcing these is invariably complex.

Dr. Don Vaughn Head of Product at Invisibly tells Digital Journal: “Apple’s iOS 15’s push for privacy will help reduce the foul data collection practices that some apps use to monetize their users’ personal data.”

He adds: “However, Apple’s scorched earth approach to personal data only helps by focusing on measuring or limiting third-parties’ use of data. It doesn’t deliver any way for people to store and use their own data.”

Dr. Vaughn sets out the case for alternative solutions, including his company’s own privacy product. With this he states: “Rather than deleting data like browsing behavior, Invisibly actually empowers people to collect and license their data to advertisers to earn money and personalize content. So while Apple believes privacy is a ‘fundamental right’, Invisibly goes further: we think data empowerment is a fundamental right.”

Expressing the view that most people want to take back control of their data, Dr. Vaughn also notes that some people are also keen to use their data to make money from it at the same time.

According to Dr. Vaughn: “It’s a first step towards building a 100% consumer-consented data model for advertisers to use, where people fully opt-in and choose what data they want shared.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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