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Fascinating Random Thoughts

Oh my data!

So, we’ve banned a bunch of Chinese apps the past few days and are now worried about the ones “stealing” our data. More precisely — apps that are collecting user data, which at this point is even silly to consider. Why? Besides the exceptions, there isn’t a single app out there that isn’t tracking user data!

Heck, governments around the world are encouraging citizens to install their respective countries’ official COVID-19 apps! What do you think these apps do? Track user data! And look at the list of apps our media thinks are invading our privacy:

The Weather Network
ABC News
Al Jazeera English
CBC News
CBS News
CNBC
News Break
NPR
ntv Nachrichten
Reuters
Russia Today
Stern Nachrichten
The Economist
The Huffington Post
The Wall Street Journal
Vice News

Yeah, news sites! I don’t know about you but I smell BS! Are these apps a possible threat to our privacy? Maybe. But we gave up on privacy that very moment when we created our invitation-only Gmail account (remember? Text ads didn’t just happen by the way) or Facebook accounts because people couldn’t stop talking about it! And then you bought your first smart phone…

The point is this — if we’re thinking (worried?) about privacy in 2020, we need to embrace the fact that we fucked up a long time ago. Really, we did.

But we also need to understand that without user data most companies won’t survive. They rely on our user data to study consumer behavior, research, innovate, develop, and accelerate the technological evolution of our future. And all that enables companies to create products, services, or content that you would like, share, and potentially buy.

To put it simply, they’re tracking your behavior so they can create something you are most likely to buy or perhaps, recommend someone else to. If this seems like a rip off, yes, it is. But that’s how things have been since the dawn of business and trade! Also, revenues from these businesses have a direct impact on a country’s economic growth, including public health, which we now recognize to be a critical function for any country.

So, don’t freak out! If you want privacy, become an Amish but I’ve heard they are way too technologically savvy than you would imagine. Or perhaps, become a monk? But then I heard they have access to a MacBook, Email, and an internet connection all the time! And you thought, all they do is meditate?

Listen, the apps in the list above and the millions others are here to stay. And they’ll continue to have access to user data unless every country starts banning apps and push their own, which would be even worse. Trust me on that. So long as they don’t literally access my documents, pictures, music (yeah, I’m possessive), and sensitive information, I really don’t care if the apps track that I do quite a lot of reading in the bathroom or between 10 and 11 pm.

Let’s not overreact.