We Don’t Know Enough About What Happens to Our Data

Susan Fowler:

Most people who take advantage of the services of companies like Google and Facebook are aware that the companies store and use their personal data. It might seem as if the trade-offs are clear and worthwhile — I give up my location data
in exchange for access to Google Maps, for example — but the reality is darker and murkier.

The United States is becoming a surveillance state, perhaps on par with China. But unlike in China, where mass surveillance is a government endeavor, the monitoring in the United States is done in large part by private corporations — and we don’t know enough about those practices. Facebook and Google, for example, have made a killing monetizing the personal data of their users. (Google keeps a record of nearly everything users buy online.) But it’s not clear where most personal data goes and what such companies decide to do with it. Is it being used merely to improve a company’s services? Or is it being used by foreign governments or political consultants to interfere with democratic elections?

Many taxpayer supported K-12 School districts use Google services, including Madison.