Most people know that their data is being harvested by ad tech companies.

They know that with each click, they surrender a bit of their privacy to an industry which pays millions to know where consumers are apt to spend time, money and attention.

Yet it’s still difficult for most people to appreciate why they should care about privacy and data - and so they impatiently consent to the annoying privacy compliance pop-ups to get to their content.

Who cares if advertisers can see how many times I went to Starbucks this week?” the average person might say.

Or, “What’s so bad about Amazon knowing what I want to buy even before I do?

Some people actually like the fact that ads are more personalised and targeted to their taste. Heck I do, afterall I would have never found that amazing jacket if it hadn’t popped up on my Instagram feed!

If your neighbour knew half the things about you that the ad tech industry knows - things like when you woke up, where you went for breakfast, how many times a week you go to the gym, whether or not you’re married, trying for a baby, your political orientation, or if you’re thinking of coming out to friends and family … you would want a restraining order against that neighbour.

Even worse still, it would make the average person sick to their stomach if they knew that their stalker-neighbour was making millions of dollars from following their every move*.

We haven’t even scratched the surface.

YOUR PRIVACY IS VALUABLE

Our privacy is valuable beyond monetary measures. It directly links to our reputations, our safety and our sanity. These things, once compromised, are hard to restore.

We trust the companies who harvest our data much like Americans trusted the brokers who sold them sub-prime mortgages in the early 2000’s - not entirely sure how they’re doing it, mostly unaware, but happy to accept the house and hope for the best. However, once your personal information is commoditised you have no control over what happens to that information.

The fact that comprehensive, global legislation on what happens with our data still doesn’t exist proves scarier still.

Consider the Anti-Abortion groups sending targeted ads to women as they enter Planned Parenthood (yes this happened [1]), or perhaps the vulnerability of citizens in unstable countries who are being subjected to similar tactics used by Cambridge Analytica in recent US and UK elections (have you heard how Facebook data was used in Africa?) [2], or even how the new Chinese social credit system uses your spending habits to control your travel [3].

These may seem extreme. Heck I’ve dismissed events like these myself many times. Plus, we wouldn’t blindly walk ourselves into some Orwellian nightmare … would we? If you carefully consider the past decade it's hard not to conclude that we are doing exactly that: walking ourselves into an Orwellian nightmare … although this one has been engineered to feel good  👍🤷‍♂️

HOW TO TAKE BACK CONTROL

Worryingly, the average person won’t know where to start in combating this.

Recent research shows that 91% of Americans feel they have “lost control over how personal information is collected and used by all kinds of entities,” and 61% said they would “like to do more to protect their privacy.” Yet, without expert knowledge or proper government regulation, it’s impossible for most people to know just how to protect their personal data [4].

At Glimpse Protocol , we are finding ways to return power back to the consumer. We are using never-before-possible technologies to anonymise data, while still making it possible for both consumers and advertisers to make money from clicks.

Big corporations never need to own any information about you. Instead, the data that would have traditionally been harvested and sold by a third party never leaves your phone and third parties don’t even get a glimpse of it. Advertisers still make money, but beyond the information pertinent to their business there’s no comprehensive consumer record available to pass on or potentially end up in the wrong hands.

To put it another way - I can still get advertisements for my amazing jacket without connecting my shopping habits to my sexuality.

*Your neighbor is not following you!

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To learn more about Glimpse Protocol …

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[1] fortune.com/2016/05/26/anti-abortion-groups-planned-parenthood/

[2] https://www.voanews.com/africa/cambridge-analytica-played-roles-multiple-african-elections

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/01/china-bans-23m-discredited-citizens-from-buying-travel-tickets-social-credit-system

[4] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/27/americans-complicated-feelings-about-social-media-in-an-era-of-privacy-concerns/