[時事英文] Big Data Privacy

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Photo Credit: “The Great Data Robbery" by Roland Duong

過去幾天,我一直在閱讀有關隱私與資訊數位化(digitization)的文章。令人難以置信的是,數十年來,數位經濟(digital economy)以飛快的速度改變了我們的生活,以及我們對隱私的看法。

For the past few days, I have been reading about privacy and the digitization of our information. It is incredible how rapidly the digital economy has transformed our lives and how we think about privacy in a matter of decades.每當我們使用大型科技公司——如谷歌、臉書以及亞馬遜——的服務時,他們總是不斷地收集我們的數據,甚至我們也毫不猶豫地交出自己的資訊。但我們為何自願交出個人數據,來助長這些身家過億的公司,乃至整個價值數兆美元的產業?這些公司確實提供了我們相關服務,甚至有些人會說「方便」。但究竟有多少人能夠審閱那些冗長且充斥著專業術語的服務條款 (terms of service)?又有多少人思考過,這些公司真正要的是什麼?這絕非個資(personal data)那麼簡單。

With big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon normalizing the collection of data in exchange for their services, people nowadays do not even think twice about handing over their data. But why is it that people are willing to sacrifice their privacy to power these billion-dollar companies and trillion-dollar industry? These companies do indeed provide users with services and offer convenience. But how many consumers read the fine print in their intentionally verbose TOS loaded with legal jargon? How many people ever bother to think about what these companies take?

…It’s a lot more than just personal data.

讓我舉個例子。2012年,《紐約時報》刊登了一篇報導——一位父親向美國第八大零售商 Target 提起告訴。該名父親指控,他的女兒一直莫名地收到孕婦裝以及嬰兒用品的優惠券(coupons)。原來,早在其他人得知女兒懷孕前,Target 已根據其購物歷史中的25項產品數據,掌握她已懷有身孕的消息。Target 侵犯了她的隱私嗎?我想,這很難有定論。雖然她在購買產品時可能已經同意了 Target 的服務條款,但我們也很難想像她會同意將自己懷孕的訊息告訴 Target (Mai, 2016, p. 193)。

In 2012, the NY Times published a small piece on the story of a father who filed a complaint against Target, the eighth-largest retailer in the United States. In his complaint, the father claimed that his daughter had received coupons for maternity clothing and baby products for no apparent reason. It turned out that Target knew the daughter was pregnant based on the data they collected from her purchase history of some 25 unique products. Target’s algorithm was able to deduce her pregnancy before even her family. Did Target breach the daughter’s privacy? It is hard to say. Even though the daughter most likely agreed to Target’s terms of service when purchasing the products, it is hard to imagine that she would have decided to give knowledge of her pregnancy to Target (Mai, 2016, p. 193).

因此,隱私 (privacy) 的概念產生了巨大的變化。隱私不再只是消費者是否同意個資的收集,以及公司如何為數據賦予價值。相反的,隱私涉及了我們的數據被如何收集、積聚、竊取與構建,以形塑關於我們的新資訊與認識——那些我們不願為人所知的認識 。

Privacy today is no longer about whether consumers agree to have their data collected and how their data should be organized and assigned values. Instead, a newer conception of privacy should take into account how consumer data has been collected, amassed, and even stolen to construct further knowledge, information that consumers would never consent to give.

根據臉書吹哨者 Frances Haugen 的揭露,臉書寧願最大化公司的增長,也不願在平台上提供保護措施,那麼我們是否該相信這些公司會保護我們的隱私?我們是否要相信他們會以公平、道德的方式使用我們的數據?也許是時候拋開舊有的隱私觀(視隱私為數據的收集與分類 data collection and classification),應由身為消費者的我們來決定,這些大公司該如何使用手中的數據 (how our data is used)。

With revelations from Facebook’s whistleblower Frances Haugen, who claimed that Facebook chose to maximize growth rather than implement safeguards on its platforms, do we trust these companies to protect our privacy? Do we trust them to use our data in a fair and ethical way? Perhaps it is now time to stop viewing privacy as solely the collection and labeling of data but as what we as consumers allow these companies to do with that data.

那麼,我們該如何促成改變並杜絕「大數據盜竊」(great data robbery)?我們可以從提問開始,並確保其中一些答案能轉化為實際行動。開始向這些公司究責吧!

The big question now is how do we facilitate change and prevent this “great data robbery"? We can begin by asking tough questions and ensuring that some of the answers turn into action.

Think, ask questions, and hold these companies accountable!

閱讀更多:https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/23/opinion/data-privacy-jaron-lanier.html

相關影片: https://thoughtmaybe.com/the-big-data-robbery/

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參考資料:

Allyn, B. (2021, October 05). Here are 4 key points from the Facebook whistleblower’s testimony on Capitol Hill. National Public Radio. https://www.npr.org/2021/10/05/1043377310/facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen-congress

Mai, J. E. (2016). Big data privacy: The datafication of personal information. The Information Society, 32(3), 192-199.

圖片出處: https://thoughtmaybe.com/the-big-data-robbery/

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