I used to be one of those people that would advocate that people should read the Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions of every app and platform they decide to use. This was mainly because, deep inside those legal agreements (yes, they are legal agreements as you have to opt-in and give consent) are some clauses that violate your privacy and give the company in charge the greenlight to abuse the data they collect on you.

I have since stopped encouraging people to read them. Not because they shouldn’t read them, but because I have come to realise it is somewhat futile.

I say it is futile because if you look closely, there really are very few, if any, alternatives to the major apps and platforms we use. Not only that, there are very few alternatives that also don’t violate our privacy. As if the limited options are not enough to make you feel helpless, once you find a useful alternative that also doesn’t violate your privacy (e.g. using Signal instead of WhatsApp), you discover that not many people you need to connect with are using your new alternative app.

When you get a chance, watch the documentary "Terms and Conditions may apply" on Netflix. It details how buried inside the agreements you tick before joining many apps and platforms, are worrying privacy violations.

What we have is subtle coercion.

I was reminded of this when looking into how aid organisations, without any explanations, collect the biometric data of refugees in need who have just fled their countries. These are refugees who are in some cases, in dire need of health care, shelter, security, and food. To be able to access these services and aid, they “give consent” for their biometric data to be collected and they are in most cases not even aware what such data will be used for in the future.

We need to build a new and better Internet, this one we have now has turned us into prisoners, always under surveillance.

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