MILLIONS of people around the world, sheltering in their homes from the coronavirus, have turned to communications platforms like Zoom, Facebook Messenger, Skype and Instagram in order to work or stay connected to friends and family.
Some aren’t willingly surrendering their online identities during this pandemic, many are being compelled to do so by their schools, family or work.
For those fortunate enough to have laptops and reliable broadband internet at home, it is not sufficient to simply update privacy policies or customer agreements.
Technology companies see an opportunity in this crisis. Verily, a division of Google’s parent company requires a Google account to find and arrange Coronavirus testing and says it may share your personal health information with third parties.
Parents seeking a remedy for their kids’ boredom could be forgiven for not poring over lengthy privacy policies before connecting them with grandparents on video chat or entertaining them with a few hours of streaming YouTube videos.
Many companies make it exceedingly difficult to opt-out of data collection, burying permissions deep on their websites or frequently changing privacy policies that dictate how and how often personal information can be harvested. Once you start using some services it can also be hard to stop, particularly if your files or photos are stored there.
It may be tempting for corporations to see their increasing numbers as a sign of long-term prosperity, but consumers need the option to delete user profiles after the crisis.
People have lost control over a lot as a result of the coronavirus. At least they should be able to control what happens to their personal data.