Privacy Day 2021

With today being data privacy day, it seems important to release an article explaining the basics of why people should value privacy online. Many companies will try to use this day to get a quick PR boost by tweeting about how they care about privacy. However, it's important to remember that the millions of dollars made from selling people's data won't be erased by them posting a 280-character-or-less message.

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Large companies have a habit of infringing on people's rights, in order to improve the bottom line. We've seen this time and time again throughout history, and online privacy is simply the latest in a long line of such occurrences. When the hot dog was first invented, the machinery would often cut off workers' hands. It wasn't uncommon to find a wedding ring while taking a bite.

This trend of prioritizing the bottom line at any cost continues to this day, where companies make millions of dollars encouraging people to surrender complete control of their data, online activities, and opinions. This almost-godlike level of power, obtained through collected data, allows companies to influence public opinion, allows governments and private interest groups to influence elections, and allows governments and individuals alike to track anyone everywhere they go. This tracking is not only available to stalkers, but also to anyone willing to pay a small fee of a couple hundred dollars. Anyone who's ever been stalked by a crazy ex, knows why this surveillance is a problem.

Nevermind the fact that these companies aren't elected into power. They don't have a constitution to follow, and privacy laws aren't anywhere close to enough to mitigate this threat. We're dealing with individual people who have more power and influence than most governments. These people should not be considered trusted actors, yet inexplicably they are.

This is only a short article explaining why I value privacy. I encourage people who want to advocate for online privacy to do whatever you can to help. Maybe show a family member how amazing Signal is. Or, submit content to Sun Knudsen's privacy matters project. Let's not let large companies use this year's data privacy day to further destroy our privacy.

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