Faculdade de Tecnologia do Colégio Bandeirantes

What do they do with my data?

Postado por Equipe BandTec

Tags: Análise e Desenvolvimento de Sistemas

By Renata Rodrigues de Mesquita,

4thSemester – System Analysis and Development

 If you are a gmail user you have probably noticed that since the beginning of this year they have been notifying the users about changes on privacy policy. But is this any of my business? Does it really affect me?

Well, yes and yes. This is our business and this affects us. This affects the way we surf the web. Actually, it affects privacy. Our data privacy, our information.

This article is about privacy policies on the web. Web is changing, and changing fast. Every day, there are more users with different interests. More and more websites providing a huge number of services, as Google does. They provide several services, such as email account, the useful maps and of course the search engine, just to point a few services. With their new policy they are going to consolidate data from their different services.   So, all their services will collect and put together information about the users, such as the sites they visit, what kind of words they use and so on. That data collection, they claim, will help them to provide better services.

If we think about services on the web, it’s obviously that some of them need to collect and keep some data. For example, let’s imagine I am thinking about buying a book. Amazon, Livraria Cultura, Saraiva and so on must know my name, my address, my credit card number- if I want to pay them that way… Otherwise they can’t deliver the product; they can’t provide me with the service.

I may also think about the cookies. They are used by several websites because if you visit those sites very often they can be loaded faster. This technical tool was conceived to improve website performance. But they also can be used to track where the visitors of a certain website are.. It’s the kind of information you don’t provide voluntarily. It’s just something they can collect and use later. Some websites keep records of  what you click on, what kind of books you see. Like that, they can build up a profile and offer you customized services.

Social media might request some data for a number of reasons. It allows other users to find you. And this is good, I think. The more information you provide, the easier is for your kindergarten classmate to finally find you.  Here we have two situations:  one in which you provide the information you want the way you want. Situation two; they just pick up the information you leave behind  and you don’t  even know about it. That’s when the privacy policies are important. They rule how and what information the companies can retain.  And it doesn’t matter whether you provided them voluntarily or not. The rules can be checked at any moment on those privacy policy statements we see here and there. These statements also establish what kind of data they can – yes – redistribute. Some people consider the data very important. They can be used to launch a new product, or to decide the best site to reach a certain public.

But the point is: what are they going to do with that? Is it important? Well, that’s where the debates start. Do I need privacy? Well, if I am buying a technical book about things I work with, it’s nice that they have my profile and email me with the latest book on that area. On the other hand if I am looking for something that I don’t want to people to know about it, I might not like the fact that my data is kept.

What is public and what is private? What information about me is my property? What must be public? Can someone use it against me? These are the questions we all should think about. Thus, we may find the best balance between the public and the private on the web.

If you would like to know more about privacy policies have a look at these sites. The first two sites are articles about Google’s changes. The last one is about Facebook.

http://www.itnews.com/privacy/42888/google-launches-privacy-plan-amid-protests
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9223852/In_letter_to_Congress_Google_defends_privacy_changes_
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebooks_zuckerberg_says_the_age_of_privacy_is_ov.php

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