Our personal data on the Internet

Ethical limits in the use of our personal data

The vision of a Computer Science Engineer

Few months ago I saw a documentary on Netflix called The great hack and I feel that I have to share this article to people who they have no idea about how an application is developed. As a computer engineer, my job is to develop Software, and specifically, I develop applications for iOS. Obviously, not all applications are the same, but most of them share one fact and that is the use of user’s personal data.

This Netflix documentary talks about how people personal data influenced in the victory of Donald Trump in 2016 elections. You may wonder, where did they get that data and how did they use it to make this man president of the United States?

Cambridge Analytica, a company that was dedicated to data analysis created an anonymous survey for US citizens, then, they managed to group all responses in different types of user profiles in such a way that each voter was associated to a psychological profile. After associating these voters to a common profile, they eliminated those who were sure the party they were going to vote, and kept the profiles that could vote for either of the two parties, the most influenceable ones.

From there, they flooded Facebook with fake news created specifically for this influenceable audience to make them choose to vote for Donald Trump's party and the result, you know what it was, Donald Trump won the elections.

Personal data are new Human Rights— From Twitter

With this article I wanted to inform you about what could happen when you accept the terms and conditions and the privacy policy of an application.
Photos you upload, the stupid tests you do on Facebook, what you buy and pay through the Internet, etc. We, software engineers, know which buttons you press the most in the apps and when, what you like and where you zoom in on the photos. We can know everything, because you have given us permission, because you have given us access to you.

Obviously life is easier with Google Maps and Uber, more entertaining with Netflix and we have access to thousands of things on Amazon. My passion is application development, I love to see that we, engineers, can connect millions of people at the same time, but I also believe that there must be a limit in the use of personal data. Offering totally free applications in exchange for some data is a fair deal, but we must be cautious about how we are going to use them.
Democracy, which must be fair to be considered democracy, cannot be put into play through the use of technology. Our society and our future cannot be put at risk.

What do you think? — Leave me a comment

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Francisco Navarro

Francisco Navarro

iOS Software Engineer 🍎 — Fan of Domotics