rDigital News: Big Data, NSA-proof phones, and more

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Ever get the feeling that you’re being watched? With Snowden’s reveal of the NSA PRISM program and the news out of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, it seems like those feelings may be well justified. And this week in tech news, our loss of privacy continues to be a top concern and users are looking for new ways to regain control.

How Big Data profits from your personal information

As part of the Life After Privacy series, the Globe and Mail is investigating the decline of online privacy and the challenges that users are facing in our digital age. On Monday, the Globe posted a multimedia look at just how much of our personal information is available to others, where they are getting it, and how users can regain power over their data.

Sorted into four sections, the Globe explores privacy on the internet, social networks, mobile phones and loyalty cards and explains not only where your data is going but how you can profit off the data you are providing. For instance, companies like New York startup Datacoup pay users for access to personal data.

But all this begs the question, how much is your personal information worth?

rdigitaLIFE also explored on this data bargain in our Walrus TV series on privacy:

Tech companies push back against the NSA with encrypted phones and apps

In the wake of PRISM and evidence of just how much the NSA can get from your smartphone, telecommunications companies are working to protect their users. According to the Guardian, Deutsche Telekom, the German parent company for T-Mobile, has developed an app that encrypts voice and text messages, set for release at a technology trade fair show in mid-March.

“Smartphones are phones combined with high-performance computers. But in most cases we are far too lax in their use. With our new offerings for smartphone security, we want to close this very gap and put customers back in charge of their own data and security level,” said Dr. Jürgen Kohr, head of the Cyber-Security unit at T-Systems, told the Guardian.

Read more about similar developments, such as the much talked about Blackphone, here:

Unicef’s Tap Project

Maybe profiting off your loss of privacy or buying a new cellphone to protect it are not up your ally. Maybe the only sure-fire way to regain control is to pull away from technology and go off the grid. But could you?

Unicef’s newest fundraising initiative, Tap Project, challenges people to detach from their devices. According to their site, for every 10 minutes that you don’t touch your phone, their sponsors will provide one day’s worth of clean water for a child in need.

In our digital world, disconnecting from the online conversation can be difficult. “People are very concerned that there’s a dialogue or conversation going on (that they aren’t part of),” Shane Hankins, founder of the National Day of Unplugging told us in his interview. “But if you’re closed off to the wider world and you’re closed off to things that you’re not purposely trying to narrowcast to yourself, I think you’re missing out on a lot of opportunity.”

Find out more and consider how different your life would be if you unplugged:

 

 

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