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Donating Your Data



Every time you use the Internet you are donating your data (information about yourself) to various service providers, social media providers and information providers. The things they provide may be 'free', but the data you unwittingly provide about yourself is extremely valuable. The Internet watches what you do, and people who want to shape what you think buy data about you and use it to feed you advertising, news, information etc. - all designed to influence your thoughts and behaviour.
Shoshana Zuboff has described this new phenomenon as Surveillance Capitalism, and warned of its dystopian potential. If you would prefer to evade this surveillance we sympathise, and provide some links and advice that might help you.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are a good place to start when concerned about privacy. Here is a useful top ten VPNs.

Many Search engines track your online activity. These don't: DUCKDUCKGO    STARTPAGE    YIPPY   

Browsers can be a real problem. Brave is fast, private and secure. It blocks trackers, advertising and unwanted content. Strongly recommended.

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WHO OWNS WHAT?


For two decades the Internet has been going through a process of consolidation: bigger players are buying up smaller players all the time. Their aim is twofold:
1. To achieve and extend monopoly control in their particular areas of activity.
2. To acquire technology, often developed by smaller startups, that enables them better to pursue their aim of achieving monopoly control in their particular areas of activity.
Why does this matter? Because Big Data is the phenomenon that, behind the scenes, drives this process. Every time you use the Internet you are likely to leave a data trail (see 'Donating Your Data', above). As the Internet becomes more consolidated the big players are able to consolidate data from the various sources they own. Their ability to track your activity becomes stronger, creating ever more sophisticated methods (often through AI algorithms) of targeting you. The implications are obvious, and, in the longer term, sinister.
To help you understand what is going on, and give you an insight into just where your data might be going, we have created a quick guide to who owns what. Click on the names of each of the big players, and you will be taken to Wikipedia's guide to their acquisition history.

GOOGLE/ALPHABET owns YouTube. Check out Privacy concerns regarding Google.

Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp, and is attempting to create the Libra cryptocurrency

AMAZON owns Goodreads. Also, interestingly, it owns Alexa Internet, giving it unrivalled intelligence on Internet traffic flows. (Amazon owner Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post)

TWITTER owns Periscope

MICROSOFT owns Skype, LinkedIn and GitHub (As of May 2019, GitHub reports having over 37 million users.)

AUTOMATTIC owns both Wordpress.com and Tumblr.

IBM acquired Verizon Cloud Services Red Hat for $34 billion, and Truven Health Analytics for $2.4 billion.

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