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10 Things to Know About Data Privacy

Data breaches carried out by hackers are expected to go up 22 percent annually, exposing some 146 billion records

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A French soldier watches code lines on his computer during the International Cybersecurity forum in Lille, northern France, Jan. 23, 2018. VOA

From hackers exposing private information online to the handling of users’ data by internet giants, online privacy has become a matter of growing concern for countries, companies and people alike.

On Monday, countries around the world marked Data Privacy Day, also known as Data Protection Day — an initiative to raise awareness of internet safety issues.

Here are 10 facts about online privacy:

* Less than 60 percent of countries have laws to secure the protection of data and privacy.

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A data theft alert is displayed on a “threat spiral” at the ProtectWise booth during the Black Hat information security conference in Las Vegas, July 26, 2017. VOA

* Europe’s data protection regulators have received more than 95,000 complaints about possible data breaches since the adoption of a landmark EU privacy law in May.

* More than one in two respondents to a 2018 global survey by pollster CIGI-Ipsos said they had grown more concerned about their online privacy compared to the previous year.

* Almost 40 percent of respondents to another survey by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab said they did not know how to protect themselves from cybercrime.

* A survey of tech professionals by security key maker Yubico suggested experts might not live up to safety standards. It found almost 70 percent of respondents shared passwords with colleagues.

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A specialist works at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Va., Sept. 9, 2014. (VOA)

* More than half reused an average of five passwords across their work and personal accounts.

* About 4 percent of people targeted by an email phishing campaign would click on it.

* In 2017, almost 17 million U.S. consumers experienced identity fraud — the unauthorized use of personal information, such as credit card data, for financial gain.

Also Read: Tech Giant Google Discusses its Data Privacy Before Senate Hearing

* Data breaches carried out by hackers are expected to go up 22 percent annually, exposing some 146 billion records, including personal information such as name, address and credit card numbers by 2023.

* Data breaches cost companies worldwide almost $4 million on average for every incident. (VOA)

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Facebook, Google Performing an Assault on the Right to Privacy

In a statement given to The Verge, a Google spokesperson said the company is working to give people more control over their data

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The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

Facebook and Google which offer services to billions of people without asking them to pay a financial fee are performing an assault on the right to privacy on an unprecedented scale, a stinging Amnesty International report said on Thursday, stressing that both companies need to change their business models which are threatening basic human rights.

The abuse of privacy that is core to Facebook and Google’s surveillance-based business model is starkly demonstrated by the companies’ long history of privacy scandals.

“Despite the companies’ assurances over their commitment to privacy, it is difficult not to see these numerous privacy infringements as part of the normal functioning of their business, rather than aberrations,” said the report that came out on Thursday.

Google and Facebook’s total revenues come almost entirely from advertising, at 84 percent and 98 percent respectively.

Their information is so attractive to advertisers that the two companies are often described as having a “duopoly” over the market in online advertising.

“But it isn’t ‘just ads’: the information in their data vaults – as well as the computational insights that Google and Facebook derive from that data,  is of intense interest to a host of actors, from companies who set insurance rates to law enforcement agencies,” said the NGO.

While Facebook agreed to pay a $5 billion fine to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the European Union’s antitrust regulators have fined Google 1.49 billion euros ($1.7 billion) for abusing its dominance in the online search market by blocking rivals.

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Huawei smartphones are seen in front of the displayed Google Play logo in this illustration picture, May 20, 2019. VOA

In fresh trouble for Google, 50 US Attorneys General probing its anti-trust market practices have decided to expand the investigation into the tech giant’s Android and Search businesses.

According to the Amnesty report, the surveillance-based business model of Google and Facebook has thrived from a largely hands-off approach to the regulation of the technology industry in key countries such as the US, the companies’ home state.

“But despite the real value of the services they provide, Google and Facebook’s platforms come at a systemic cost. The companies’ surveillance-based business model forces people to make a Faustian bargain, whereby they are only able to enjoy their human rights online by submitting to a system predicated on human rights abuse,” the report noted.

This isn’t the internet people signed up for. Citizens today are paying for the Facebook and Google services with their intimate personal data.

After collecting this data, Google and Facebook use it to analyze people, aggregate them into groups, and to make predictions about their interests, characteristics, and ultimately behavior – primarily so they can use these insights to generate advertising revenue.

“This surveillance machinery reaches well beyond the Google search bar or the Facebook platform itself. People are tracked across the web, through the apps on their phones, and in the physical world as well, as they go about their day-to-day affairs,” said the Amnesty report.

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

In another example of infringing on users’ privacy, Google’s partnership with US healthcare organization Ascension over health data collection of millions of Americans through its “Project Nightingale” has also triggered a federal probe.

According to the NGO report, the companies’ use of algorithmic systems to create and infer detailed profiles on people interferes with “our ability to shape our own identities within a private sphere”.

“Advertisers were the original beneficiaries of these insights, but once created, the companies’ data vaults served as an irresistible temptation for governments as well.”

Ultimately, said the report, it is now evident that the era of self-regulation in the tech sector is coming to an end and further state-based regulation will be necessary.

Also Read: The Reasons of Investing in Luxury Watches

In its reply, Facebook disagreed with it’s business model being “surveillance-based.”

“It is important to note that no one is obliged to sign up for Facebook. Facebook’s business model is not, as your summary suggests, driven by the collection of data about people. Like many other online companies, Facebook is supported through the sale of advertising,” the social networking platform said in a letter which is part of the Amnesty report.

In a statement given to The Verge, a Google spokesperson said the company is working to give people more control over their data. (IANS)