Do we control our data once it is online?

data_protectionI can’t believe we are already at the end of Module 5!

On this last module, we were asked to prepare ourselves for an ethical debate and an infographic about the digital disruption in a given field. Regarding the ethical debate, we had to work on this two motions:

1. Facebook’s Privacy and Data Use Policy is a unnecessary restriction upon its user’s rights
2. Amazon ‘Cloud Drive’ Terms Of Use provide sufficient privacy for its users

Our team had to argue for Amazon Cloud Drive Terms of Use.  We had to push our brains here to defend a thing we really didn’t agree with. We basically stressed the fact that the agreement between customer and company was clearly outlined. Amazon clearly gives the responsibility of file management to the user, as they simply provide the service.

We had an interesting session with four of our colleagues defending each position but in both cases the motion against won. In fact, I just read today that:

Facebook could face an investigation by the US Federate Trade Commission (FTC) over its use of user data in the controversial “emotion contagion” experiment.

The US privacy pressure group the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (Epic) has filed a complaint with FTC demanding that the watchdog investigates Facebook’s actions.

“The company purposefully messed with people’s minds,” states Epic in the complaint. “Facebook conducted the psychological experiment with researchers at Cornell University and the University of California, San Francisco, who failed to follow standard ethical protocols for human subject research.”

The study conducted over one week in 2012 and published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, hid “a small percentage” of emotional words from peoples’ news feeds, without their knowledge, to test what effect that had on the statuses or “likes” that they then posted or reacted to.

If you think about it, it is quite scary the amount of data that
platforms such as Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc.. have from us.  We share 2 Zettabytes of data each year online. It is crazy! And it is also crazy to think about the control you have over that data once it is online. Examples such as “The right to be forgotten” ruled by the EU court only happened like two months ago. Now individuals have right to control their data and can ask search engines to remove results, says European court, but do we???

I think that at the end of the day, most of us we just do our things online without paying much attention to what we share and the poor control we have over it once it is out there. I must admit that I rarely read Terms and Conditions to start with, though I know I should. We all know we should.


– The end of online privacy? Charles Arthur, February 2012
– Teens, Social Media, and Privacy, May 2013
– EU court backs ‘right to be forgotten’: Google must amend results on request, Alan Travis and Charles Arthur, May 2014
– We’re Now Sharing 2 Zettabytes Of Data Each Year Online, Shea Bennett, July 2013


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