GAFA and my personal data: the beautiful reactionary demagoguery

by bold-lichterman

A Sunday morning back to school. On the radio, a respected writer. His credo of the moment? Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and other Netflix are potential totalitarian monsters in power, plundering our data without asking our opinion, and being able to make us lose our humanity in the short term.

Note that I agree on one point. It is undoubtedly the role of media people to bring to the attention of the masses the risks that the hegemony of the American giants can represent over our data.

But! Inform, yes. Play on fears, no. While it is important to remain lucid about the dangers of misuse of our data, this kind of argument causes more damage than it prevents.

Sometimes it’s too easy to talk about technologies that few people really know (the “big data “) by stirring their most buried Orwellian fears, with a succession of shock demagos sentences (your insurance will cost you more if it monitors you on Facebook), somewhat fantasized science fiction arguments (soon Amazon will write books on its own) or other quotes from “of a senior French intelligence official ” (sic) who told him that “the world was running into disaster “ (sic bis).

Can we for once consider an innovation from its positive angle, rather than sticking to thought systems from the last century?

Because these new technologies are an opportunity. These new technologies are progress. For the first time in human history, our behavior can effectively be tracked by computer tools, using the traces that we leave while living (the famous data).

I have the honor to have created, with others, a society who can (with your consent) use all of your data to help you live better. To better manage your diabetes, to avoid cardiovascular accidents, to better endure your cancer, to live your pregnancy better or simply to stay healthy. What do we not hear on a daily basis about data!

Yes Madam, Sir, we are using your data, and we will be able to save your life thanks to this. No Madam, Sir, these data are not transmitted to anyone, because they only concern you. No one other than you can access it. Because this is not our conception of digital health, and in addition the law prohibits it.

Let’s stop stigmatizing the debate around personal data. There are in France, in the world, companies, people you trust who consider your data as an opportunity for you. And who create services so you can enjoy them, while respecting you and your data. In all honesty, in all transparency.

Is that not enough for you? None of these companies (not even GAFA) will take away your free will: if you don’t trust Google, don’t use Google. And Google will not have access to your data. But don’t turn paranoia in the age of time into a lifestyle that is fundamentally resistant to any intelligent use of your data. And above all, no easy proselytizing.

No, an algorithm is not a bad word. No, Artificial Intelligence is not going to order you tomorrow (because it is simply unable to do so). No, any company or digital product asking for your data doesn’t necessarily mean harm to you.

Yes, you have to be careful that everyone remains protected in their privacy. Yes, we must inform about the possible abuses of these systems.

But let’s not make the game before it’s played, and above all, let’s not let some primary demagoguery use up the potential of a good use of our data even before! that we have been able to concretely measure the progress that will result from it.

Paul-Louis - BELLETANTEPaul-Louis Belletante is the founder of the start up Betterise Health Tech (11 employees) founded in 2014, which offers smart and personalized digital health support services.

Their main product: Betterise.me.

Photo credit: Fotolia, royalty-free stock images, vectors and videos