The Grand Signal

A digital magazine covering the intersection of technology, human rights and social change.

Travelling the information superhighway? People are watching.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Mcintosh |

Assuming privacy on the internet is a foregone conclusion of a bygone era — as far as anyone can tell, the data shared between an individual and most websites on the net are typically met with hidden eyes. The Prism scandal has brought to light the NSA’s diligent snooping — but what about even less legitimate sources? Online marketers, attourneys, law enforcement agencies and private investigators are starting to use every digital avenue available to them — everything from Facebook sign-ins, to registering on digital cameras to pursue people.

“The digital world has suddenly given us a wealth of information like we never had before,” a California district divorce attorney Lee Rosen said. “The floodgates of data have opened up.”

The data is no longer priviledged between a person and the government. Social platforms are increasingly selling their data to marketing firms and other agencies surveying people. It’s clear that an immense digital portrait of a person can be established with a few quick glances at their internet habits and what they buy at the convenience store near the subway every morning at 7. Every plugged in person on the planet has a “cyberdata”, and the question for the next decade is clear: who does it belong to?

NPR is running a four-part series on the issue of digital surveillance and tracking this week.

What are your thoughts on the privatization of cyber data? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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