I’ve read Satya Nadella’s book, Hit Refresh, and one chapter remained stuck in my head – The Trust Equation. How will people trust companies to protect their data in the cloud era? How will you and me trust that our governments will not use cloud technologies to “spy” on us? How will everyone embrace digital transformation when there is so much abuse of personal data?
That’s why I thought about the Privacy Equation. As my former manager of my manager’s manager’s manager (namely Satya) said, many are saying that with social media channels becoming mainstream, privacy is dead. Satya disagrees – and I disagree as well. Privacy today is more important than anything. It’s about my life, your life, your loved one’s life, about everyone’s life. Let me dig deeper on this.
I’ve been raised in a climate where Romanian Secret Service – the feared Securitate – used its huge collaborator network to spy on everyone. Imagine a huge network where the Party – the Only Party – knew everything about everyone. Almost everyone had a dedicated file – much like each one of us has a profile on a social media network. The difference was that the Party had specific intimate details about everyone without explicit consent.
In Colonel Pacepa’s (the most prominent Securitate high-ranking officer to defect to USA) book – Red Horizons – it is clearly described a moment when the presidential couple tested latest Securitate’s bugs installed in fixed-line phones (for the youngest of you – yes, there was a time each house had something like this), bugs that were able to record even when the phone wasn’t in use. They were able to hear families discussing politics (strictly forbidden during Comunism), making love, fighting, complaining etc. They knew everything.
That’s why for me privacy is so important – I grew up with Securitate watching over my family, my friends’ families, over everyone. And that’s why hearing people complain about GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation issued by European Union, coming into effect on May 25th 2018 – bothers me a lot.
I know this has a huge impact on your business – whether you are an owner, a co-owner, a manager or an employee – this will affect everyone. But this isn’t only about your business – it’s about you! It’s about protecting your private data, your intimate life from commercial or public sector entities that might want to use your data against you.
Let me be clear on this – there are entities – both commercial and non-commercial – who want to influence you and your loved ones into making decisions you might not make in a normal environment. Let’s take for example fake news – fake news don’t just appear – they are built, launched and most important – targeted. And they are targeting people who are easy to be influenced. And suddenly your friends or your neighbours get radicalized or polarized on some extremist opinions, since only specific articles were targeted in smart-placed ads. Machine learning algorithms can do this on specific ad-servers! Today!
Or commercial entities might target you and your loved ones with ads based on your behaviour that predicts your next moves. And you might not want another child but “somehow” you get convinced that you need another child. Or that you want another car. Or another house. Or just some junk food in the middle of the night. But all these algorithms use data you might not want to share with either commercial or public entities. It’s data concerning your online visits, what you click or you don’t click, sites you are visiting, your browser history, your GPS history (yes, your travel information is also very personal).
It’s like having a bug in your house collecting information about you, information that is processed by Securitate officers, information that is used against you and your judgment. And that’s why GDPR is great – it takes the bug out of your house, it takes the Securitate officers away from you. It puts YOU in control. They simply won’t be able to use your data WITHOUT INFORMING YOU what are they doing with it. Detailed information. VERY DETAILED INFORMATION. And by the way, since data collection forms will be public, even if you miss some paragraphs, the press surely won’t. And you will see things neither private nor public companies want you to see.
You are now empowered!