Petitions have an important place in human history as the tool that has often been the only voice of marginalized people. They can be found across many cultures and regions throughout time, with their start dating back to Ancient Egypt, where slaves often tried to petition for better working conditions. The practice of petitioning has inevitably changed throughout history, most drastically in recent years with the proliferation of technology into all practices of life. We no longer write a bunch of hieroglyphs in papyrus, but we rather click on the link our friend shared on Facebook (most likely a Change.org petition) and fill in our information.
Quick and Easy! Yay, Right?!?
Is this easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy way of signing petitions really an adequate process to digitalize such an important practice?
Or is it yet another opportunity for Data Giants to gather massive amounts of personal data to sell out?🤔
While the ease of signing a petition one wants to support with just one click sounds very efficient and appealing, Human history has proven over and over again that the most appealing way might not always be the safest way. I wanna bring back that petition your friend shared on Facebook earlier, because there we already find one of the bad guys:
In 2018, the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal occurred, and to save you some research here’s a short summary: Millions of Facebook users had their personalized data taken without consent by Cambridge Analytica. This data was sold to political campaigns which allowed politicians to skew political advertising in their favour by relying on the supposedly ‘protected’ data of the users / citizens.
Now some might say, “Well, if they have my personal data, they can give me more advertising that I want which is a good thing, no?”
Yes, if the world were perfect, maybe a bit of personal data wouldn’t hurt anyone, but we don’t. Personal data can comprise a lot things, and when someone knows how you feel, they know what to say so you will listen.
The possibilities that emerge with these masses of data bring into play an important aspect when talking about Data Gathering, which is Data Protection, a key stone in safeguarding the Digital Rights of Individuals. As much as we catch up with everyday technology, if the same does not happen to our Legislative Procedures and Rights, we will be at the mercy of the highest bidder at some point. We will only be shown, what they want to show us (pretty Orwellian tbh).
But what can we do?
There aren’t a lot of ways for individuals to go against giant digital conglomerates, but there are individual practices that can contribute to a safer managing of our data:
- Inform yourself and others about the Digital Rights you currently have (example. GDPR)
- Research a company’s / webpage’s past with handling personal data before authorizing its usages
- Support Data Protection Movements (Voting for better Data Protection, Sharing Infographics on Cybersecurity, etc.
General rule of thumb for more information: Google stuff as if your life depended on it.
Also, if you have time to sign some petitions, please do so! 🙂