Like many people with privilege, online privacy didn’t used to matter to me

Artwork by Ellie Shipman

….As someone who has worked in advertising, the idea of receiving more tailored ads when I surfed the web was absolutely fine by me.

But that is obviously a very naive view of the transfer of data that happens when we’re online. And it comes from a place of not having to worry about the state getting hold of data about me and what they might do with it. It comes from a place of not having to protect special characteristics about myself that might expose me to discrimination. And it comes from a place of being in Europe and having the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which protects that transfer of data. So actually privacy is so important because not only is it a human right enshrined within the UN Declaration of Human Rights, but it’s also essential for us to be able to protect ourselves, and to avoid being profiled and manipulated.

As human beings, we love to think that we are self determining, autonomous creatures. But when our online experience is being tailored and optimised to not only keep us there, but also to serve us the kind of information that it thinks we might want, there are huge consequences. This isn’t just about receiving ads for theatre recommendations, it’s about what this means for our information environment. And as we start to embed artificial intelligence (AI) within the system, which is data hungry in itself, online privacy is one of the key rights that needs to be protected….

An excerpt from my interview with The Privacy Collective. To read it, and learn more about their mission, click here.