The Right to be Forgotten

Imagine a world where your every move and thought were being monitored and used as data that was then fed back to you in the form of advertising or political influence…yeah, well, welcome to now, right?

Back in the 1990’s, your local supermarket checkout was already keeping a record of how often you were buying toothpaste, and which brand you liked with its loyalty program and the details of your credit card billing address. That information was then sold to places like radio stations who targeted your pinpointed demographic with the music you liked, and ads for the toiletries you preferred.

Data collection and targeted marketing is not new, and it is never going away.  What is vastly more sophisticated now, however, is just how much information is collected and how remarkably it is being used.

When you thought it bizarre that you mentioned buying new sheets to a friend and suddenly ads appeared all over your social media suggesting bedding, you were not being paranoid. Your phone is listening, and so is everyone involved in anything to do with your phone.

Astoundingly, some people think that one day we may be living with a real life ‘Big Brother’…dude…he’s been standing beside you for more than two decades.

However, this is not a story about fear or anger or disaster, but about where we are going from here, and there is some really good news.

Cyber security used to be something banks and big business needed to worry about, but with the absolute flood of personal information out there, the law is, finally, starting to catch up.

Your information, your data, is yours. Yes, you may have given tons of it away over the years by clicking something or joining something, but Lawyers are getting a handle on how to reign in the seemingly untameable technology that rides roughshod over privacy.

The European Union has the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is the toughest privacy and security law in the world. These laws cover anyone inside the EU and, also, any EU citizen world-wide. And this is no toothless tiger set of regulations looking to spend millennia in the courts dying of boredom.  Just ask Mark Zuckerberg about the money his company has paid out over the past couple of years for breaches involving EU citizens. The good news is that most countries have either come on board or are in the process of doing so.

By mid-2021, 120 countries had put similar data privacy protection laws in place for humble individuals like us.

No longer must your image, your personal details or any other part of you be a commodity.

If you don’t want anyone to gather, hold or share any part of your personal information, the law is on your side and it knows how to help you now.

You can, with a little bit of effort, remove yourself from the Matrix.

You even have the right to be forgotten.

Let’s say, one day, you decide that social media is not for you. Just closing your accounts will not take away the data that is already online, but you CAN make that happen.

For example, you can contact Google or any other search engine and ask them to remove any data relating to you. You can contact Meta or any other data collector/controller and ask them to do the same thing. In most cases, they have one month to comply to ‘the right to erasure’ act. That’s it. The laws are there, and they are functioning.

Most people are unaware at how far along these guardrails have come in a relatively short time. This may be because reading about Data Protection Laws can be pretty coma inducing, and it also may be that it is not in the best interests of the usual information gatherers to disclose how much the walls are closing in on their manipulative game of ‘relax, you think too much’.

Data protection is an exploding field. Now that it has been proven that an equal amount of money can be made keeping you safe as can be made making you vulnerable, the game is truly afoot.

Big Brother will always be there, but now he has an equally determined younger sister slapping his hands away from your privacy.

For more information on your data rights check out https://ico.org.uk or https://europa.eu/

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