- The rise and rise of big tech companies in the last few decades are slowly turning digital and personal information into a monopoly that they control. In today’s data economy, the raw value of information has been compared to the oil industry with many experts indicating that information is now more valuable than oil.
However, the biggest beneficiary for this unprecedented rise in technology has been the big tech companies who now control the gateways to information, whether online or offline. Their power has become limitless and their operations have so far not been bound by any law.
Take for instance the big social media and search engine companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. Just before the US elections were held earlier this month, these companies were accused of censoring information and creating a harsh environment where free speech was being attacked. This resulted in their CEOs being called to the US Congress to explain what they were doing to ensure that free speech was being respected on their platforms.
Big tech companies and personal data
However, much of the criticism leveled against the big tech companies have been due to their handling of personal data. These companies are able to use personal data however they want including selling the data to third-party advertisers. This creates a problem, considering that many users of the platforms are not aware that their data is being exchanged for monetary value.
To avoid this, and a sign of good faith, these companies should consider taking some steps in ensuring that there is trust between their users and the company. Some of these steps include:-
- The ability to change providers:- This has been a pertinent issue for a very long time, with big tech companies being unwilling to unwed their users from their data and give them what belongs to them, their data. In the US, the issue of whether users should be able to change service providers with all their information and phone data became so heated, with these companies arguing that their ability to be the primary phone carriers to a customer is what keeps the market stable. The standoff was solved by the US cancel which ruled in favor of customer’s ability to change phone carriers with all their data. A willingness for other big tech companies to allow such transfer of data could go a long way in ensuring users are at ease with using their platforms.
- Protection of private data:- Users should be able to protect their personal data and determine what they should share, to who they should share and how much of this information should remain if they decide to leave a platform. Leaving this power to the big tech companies, has so far, not worked great and it would be a good tactical change if such a move were to be considered.
- Verification of terms of services:- Terms of services offered by many of these companies end up not being followed. Users should be able to ascertain that the big tech companies are sticking to their word of protecting their data and keeping them safe. This includes openness when., for instance, there is a data leak or data is shared to third parties.
- The ability to not be tracked:- Users should be given the ability to opt-in and out of services that track your location or how you are using the internet. Failure to do this by big tech companies is surveillance and failure to obey their users’ freedom of speech, where users are not allowed to have any say about what their data should be used for.
The most important part is those big tech companies, they know their power, they know that those who control a popular software control their users. Therefore, keeping users at ease is a one-way street and the buck stops with the big tech companies. They should start making changes that assure their users that their data is safe and they have freedom and power over where and how their data will be used.