Feb 11th, 2019, 10:01 AM

Why You Should Data Detox

By Isala Gray
Data Detox Bar Exhibition in London, Image Credit: Flickr/Tactical Tech
The Glass Room Experience exhibit shows the dangers of data mining.

The Glass Room Experience, an exhibit that has just arrived at the Gaîté Lyrique in Paris's 3rd arrondissement, explores the dangers of big data mining. Throughout the day, we all use our phones and apps for multiple tasks. In the digital age, we're online so much, we have formed individual online identities. According to Market Watch in Q1 of 2017, “ U.S. adults spent three hours and 48 minutes a day on computers, tablets, and smartphones.” Because these identities are now so prominent in our everyday lives, Tactical Technology Collective, a non-profit, has created a program to help stop the marketing of our data to big commercial companies.

The Data Detox is an eight-step online program produced by Tactical Technology Collective that helps to remove toxic data built up on your devices, which in turn helps in protecting your personal information from Big Data companies like Umbel. Tactical technology is a non-profit organization with a focus on technology, human rights, and privacy. The organization has been conducting research and training in data and digital security since 2003, posing questions on the global conversation about data and privacy in our digital lives. The Data Detox is for the tech user who feels they've lost control of their digital selves or wants to know what their digital self is.  

Data Detox Kits offered at the exhibit, The Glass Room Experience. Image Credit: Flickr/Tactical Tech

Because so many companies, and even schools, have transitioned to some form of digitization, many people find themselves in constant participation to stay connected in today's climate. Most people are not completely sure of what rights they're signing away when accepting the "Terms & Conditions."  

Data brokers are companies whose main job is to collect information on consumers. Forbes reported, “Umbel’s Digital Genome alone collects, analyzes and visualizes 18,446,744,073,709,600,000 data points per person in less than one second.”

This information is then sold to companies and or individuals who have an interest in you and your buying power. Tactical Technology Collective website explains, "our habits, movements, relationships, preferences, beliefs, and secrets are revealed to those who collect and capitalize on them." Which essentially means data brokering is a silent industry with its hidden intentions in the lengthy terms and conditions full of legal jargon, but often those long scripts have specific language that explains what they can view and keep regarding your data. This data (opening an app, clicking a site, taking a call) is then packaged and sold by data brokers. 



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Business Insider reported former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, "We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about." he said. This detox takes you through the necessary steps of editing your digital footprint, from clearing your browser history to disposing of publicly available data by deep cleaning your social media accounts.    

The monitoring of people's interactions with media and each other online are targeted by advertising of clothing or music is one thing, but data collection becomes a bigger issue when data brokers begin to sell your data profiles to political party campaigns, credit raters, and insurance assessments.

It can even be used to exclude groups from advertisements. The Data Detox exhibit shares, "In 2016, Facebook was found to be allowing advertisers to exclude certain racial groups from their ads—including ads for jobs and housing." Another risk of companies having access to personal information is the possibility of that data being leaked.   

The Glass Room Experience installation in London, which is currently in Paris. Image Credit: Flickr/Tactical Tech

"The Global Big Data market was estimated at 23.56 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach $118.52 billion by 2022" according to Market Watch. If you are tired of actively participating in the release of your private information for capital, start your own data detox by visiting https://datadetox.myshadow.org, or visit The Glass Room Experience pop-up exhibit at Gaîté Lyrique until March 3, 2019.

However, do be wary of The Glass Room Experience set-up at Gaîté Lyrique. It is hard to maneuver for the non-French speaker, and the set-up depicted online is not at all what you get.