Loss of privacy is loss of control.
Our customer privacy is important to us, especially in a world where consumer data is being collected and utilized on a larger scale than we have ever seen before.
Large tech companies have little to no regulations regarding their data collection practices. Data can be collected without our consent – directly or by digital tracking. This personal data can include name, photo, email address, IP address, sexual orientation, bank details, social media posts, medical information, and biometric data. It can be obtained from in-store purchases, browsing websites, or social media activity. Companies then use consumer data to advertise and better their corporate marketing strategy, increase the productivity of business operations, but also to sell it to third parties for additional revenue. And lately we’ve seen companies use such data for increasing destructive reasons.
Social media companies are gleaning data from users to target voters for political campaigns. Facebook was hit with the maximum fine in Britain for allowing the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to harvest the information of millions of people without their consent. Cambridge Analytica, which had ties to President Trump’s campaign, used information to build psychographic profiles to target American voters.
Anyone can track a Venmo user’s purchase history and glean a detailed profile, including their drug deals, eating habits and arguments because the payment app lacks default privacy protections. A Berlin-based researcher, Hang Do Thi Duc, analyzed more than 200 million public Venmo transactions in 2017.
One case was with a conversation between a couple who may not have realized that their comments were public by default. “Please leave me alone,” said the woman, who Do Thi Duc refers to as Susana.
“I just love you. I’m sad that you don’t understand,” replies the man.
In a later exchange, he says: “It’s pretty damn clear that you were using me all along. Took me a while to figure that out.” The next morning, he’s repentant. “I’m sorry. I take everything I said back.”
We are in the age of information. It has become the norm to disclose personal information to gain benefits or ease of shopping access. The problem arises when it happens in the above instances and when we don’t give consent for taking such data.
Europe has taken steps forward in the protection of our information through the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This GDPR gives people better privacy protections and forces companies to make big changes to the way they collect data and consent for users – with fines for those who don’t comply. This regulation marks a shift in priorities - moving away from the interest of large tech companies and back towards rights of the individual citizen.
The biggest offenders in need of accountability and reform to their practices include Facebook, Venmo and Google, along with other tech companies like Criteo. Criteo technology powers digital ads featuring products you’ve browsed online that follow you from webpage to webpage.
One must keep in mind that large tech companies are aggressively fighting to be governed. They want the most lenient privacy laws possible. Right now, the US is far more lenient than Europe, as manifested by their General Data Protection Regulation. It is encouraging that California passed the Consumers Privacy Act, giving us the right to see information collected and request it to be deleted. The bill was opposed by Facebook, Google, Comcast, AT&T, Amazon, and Verizon, and it is under threat of dilution through lobbying funded by these players.
Let’s help return the power into our hands!
We deserve better privacy protections and companies need to make big changes in the way they collect data and consent from us. The focus needs to change to the needs of the individuals and democratic society.
Companies should be required to replace long terms and conditions with understandable and digestible consent requests, and it should be as easy to withdraw your consent as it is to give it. We should have expanded rights to request the data that is collected by these companies. And in the same vein, have the right for our information to be forgotten. Should there be a breach of data (or another inherent risk when storing this information), the company must notify users immediately. Ellwood’s push is to create awareness and to call on our congressional bodies to push back against companies like Apple and Google.
At Ellwood’s we do not and will not collect your data without your consent. We pride ourselves on truth, transparency, and a warm, community experience with education around our environment and food. We hope that our customers look forward to coming into Ellwood’s to enjoy a good meal and connect with their neighbors.