In recent times, privacy has become one of the main concerns of all internet users. People actually care about who can see what they share. They now scrutinize any company that deals with huge data sets. But the rise of privacy concerns have not risen without reason.
It can all be traced back to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytical data scandal in early 2018. it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent and used it for political advertising purposes. It has been described as a watershed moment in the public understanding of personal data. It precipitated a massive fall in Facebook’s stock price and called for tighter regulation of tech companies’ use of data. Following this scandal, Facebook’s market value fell $119bn. This prompted a series of events bringing privacy into limelight.
The Facebook-Cambridge Analytical data scandal fast-tracked the implementation of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in the European Union. It’s a law on data protection and privacy for all individuals citizens of the European Union and the European Economic Area. If a company shows non-compliance, up to €10 million, or 2% annual global turnover – whichever is higher; or up to €20 million, or 4% annual global turnover – whichever is higher, depending on the severity of the offence. The GDPR showed its might when it fined Google €50 million. This is the biggest GDPR fine yet to be issued by a European regulator and the first time one of the tech giants has been found to fall foul of the tough new regulations that came into force in May last year. The fine was issued because Google failed to provide enough and clear information to users about its data consent policies and the users had less control over their data.
“Genuine Consent” is a tricky subject. Under GDPR, companies are required to gain the user’s “genuine consent” before collecting their information, which means making consent an explicitly opt-in process that’s easy for people to withdraw. Companies are now forced to implement clear data policies. Ignorance, however, is another aspect. Netizens used to click Agree on all the policy-consent forms. Consequently, this had to stop for the Big Four.
“Facebook and Google reshape the Narrative on Privacy” says the NYTimes. The chief executive of a huge tech company with vast stores of user data, and a business built on using it to target ads, now says his priority is privacy. All annual conferences of the big tech companies had privacy as their main subject. “We think privacy is for everyone”, says Google’s Sundar Pichai. “The future is private”, says Mark Zuckerberg. This shows the market’s shift showing its emphasis on privacy. We have finally realized that privacy is a fundamental right.