Our Data We Didn’t Know

Many people in the world own a cell phone. To be more specific, many of us own a smartphone that’s capable of downloading music, files, and apps. Much of what we use on our phones may be powered by the internet, GPS, or some type of cellular data. Considering that we all own a smartphone, we can assume that in one way or another we are being tracked. However, our phones are not the only way our information is being tracked.

Vita Williams has been a data scientist for over twenty years. In her profession, she is able to know each and every person in America based on basic data that’s given from the time of birth. After viewing her Ted Talk video, I realized the significance of my existence. At first, I wasn’t quite moved by the video. In fact, I was confused about the overall message of her speech. It wasn’t until the end on of the video that I realized what she was talking about. I viewed the Ted Talk for a second time to get better understanding. Here are a few takeaways I gained from her video.

From the moment we are born, our basic information is gather and recorded. Yes, any type of records, government numbers, phone numbers, and anything else that will include our name and date of birth is somehow documented within our government. People like Vita Williams has access to all this information including the last time we went into a store. As creepy as this sounds, our data is being tracked and used for companies. This leads me to my next point.

We all know the saying “it’s a small world” and its meaning. After listening to Williams, I’ve connected a new meaning to this phrase. Did you know that the action we make each day can affect someone we don’t know? What’s more interesting is that even that person doesn’t know they’ve been affected. During her speech, she mentions how Amazon has bought Whole Foods, the leading organic grocery stores. Amazon was able to use daily data from Americans to understand that over 50 percent of Whole Foods’ consumers were Millennials. Our daily data is based on decisions and actions we make each day which eventually turns into a “vote” for local statistics. When Americans buy foods from Whole Foods, how are they helping the local farmers? Are local farmers included? In some cases we could helping or hindering them.

My last and most influenced takeaway is that we have control over our data. Whenever we download a new app on our phones or sign up for something on the web, we always come across a section that we have to agree to the terms of whatever it is we want. The vast majority of people will not read the information. Instead simple check the box that says agree. What this information is telling us is that our data may be used. However, we have the power to change that. We have the right to understand what and how our private data is being used. Once we understand this, we have the chance to say “I understand that what I do can affect someone else and I want to make sure they have a say so too!” In conclusion, let’s all begin to read and understand our privacy policy to protect ourselves and include others.

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