In the name of using ‘easy’ and ‘free’ (as in beer) tools, people simply overlook that all these closed options require that you (and everyone else that wants to contact you and has to use those platforms) sign a contract with a company to use these services. And it’s not even a contract that you can negotiate the terms of, it’s a contract that the company dictates the terms of and they are terms that can be changed at any point in time, always to benefit these companies.
People overlook that all those ‘free’ services aren’t really free. They have a cost. A cost that is being paid by our actual freedom as human beings. They take away our freedom of having a really free internet and we are complicit. We are allowing them to do that. By giving away our privacy (and the privacy of other fellow human beings), we are allowing these companies (and, a lot of times, governments) to watch and know every step we take, to choose what we read and which websites we access, how we think, to limit our freedom of expression, our freedom to choose to not have our data in their databases and even our freedom of being. A lot of times, they act without us even knowing what they are doing.
If there is one wish I have for this Data Privacy Day, it is for people to start considering the services they are using and how this affects everyone else around them. I do not choose to have my phone number indexed by Google, you do that for me when you add me to your contacts. I do not choose to have my face identified and indexed by Facebook, it’s you who do that every time you upload a picture with me to your timeline. But, most of all, it’s not me who chooses to be ‘out of reach’, ‘not to participate in your community or your meeting’, ‘to isolate myself from communicating on the internet’ (even though I am constantly online). It’s you who chooses to hide behind proprietary services with terms I cannot conscientiously agree to.