Newsmaker for Jan 21, 2020:

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Technology has reached a point at which, to meet expectations, it must collect vast amounts of information. This means, surveillance has become a necessary part global technology. As one Creighton University Professor says, the focus has become, not whether the tech is being used, but who is using it.

The research of Dr. Guy McHendry, Associate Professor of Communications Studies, says companies build profiles which consist of “tens of thousands of data points” used to predict and influence purchases.

He also indicates the problem of ‘who’ is further compounded by the natural biases of those who formulate the technology.  Algorithms may become skewed when identifying persons by race, assuming an available database of photos, used in profiling technology, utilizes more from one ethnic background than another.

With some anti virus software programs, a consumer may have difficulty with being certain they are protected from unwanted surveillance.

There may be steps to take to ensure no more than the minimal amount of surveillance or data collection is taking place.  Since surveillance is unavoidable, McHendry suggests measures toward that end:

  • Use a password manager or create unique, complex passwords for each online account.
  • Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Regularly review privacy settings on all apps and devices connected to the internet. Many apps and devices could collect data that is not required to use the full functionality.
  • Undergo a regular “digital house-cleaning.” Unsubscribe, uninstall, delete and cancel obsolete apps, emails, online subscriptions and services.
  • Regularly review web browser privacy setting