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I’ll be watching you

The ethics of data gathering [and Google Analytics]
A Mac Book Pro computer sits on a table with the Google search page on the screen.

It’s clear that our rapidly changing technology has outpaced privacy and antitrust laws that protect personal data.

Most of us log onto the internet multiple times a day — from our work or home computers, tablets, and smartphones. Not only checking social media and online news sources but purchasing a good portion of the goods we consume daily. Our credit card, banking, and medical information is now on the cloud. Easy to access, but vulnerable to savvy hackers who may or may not want to do personal harm.

But it isn’t just the hackers we need to concern ourselves with. It’s big tech and monopolistic organizations that have easy access to our personal data, tracking our habits, purchases, and more.

Each time we land on a website, the banner ad at the top of the page correlates with a recent search – It’s equal parts helpful and creepy. Mostly creepy.

But data gathering, mining, and surveillance have ethical implications and our legal system needs to catch up. Mainly to save us from ourselves. Because let’s face it, we love the ease of internet life. Even the ease of familiarity, like using Google to search, when there are some other options that won’t surveil us. But, we are so used to using Google, that we even call internet searches “googling.” 

God help us. We’re partly to blame. We rarely analyze the benefits and the risks of putting so much of our personal data out there. Heck, who among us actually reads the legal mumbo jumbo in the terms of use and privacy agreements? Instead, we just blithely click the button without a second thought. 

And while analytics, now a booming business and requisite for any online marketer, is certainly helpful for e-commerce, do we really want to be tracked at all times?

We need laws and a legal system that can keep pace with emerging technology, especially as it is related to personal information and expectations of privacy. Because left to our own devices? We don’t stand a chance.

Google Analytics Certification