Although we find our digital lives convenient with notifications, streamed music, messages, and emails, remember the tech companies are ruling our lives.
Your phone beeps with Instagram and WhatsApp notifications. You are listening to music on YouTube and emailing from Gmail. Later today, you might use Airbnb to book a trip to Rome so you can finally eat at that amazing restaurant you stumbled across on Twitter. Your data is entered –- and stored.
But what exactly are these companies doing with your data? And more importantly, where are they sending it?
Recent changes to the law made user data a hot topic. New data protection laws like GDPR have forced technology companies to become much more transparent about the ways they use your data and how they are sharing it with global governments.
Tech companies publish transparency reports that show where they send their data –- and how many requests for user information that they grant around the world.
The Addictive Tips blog has created a set of visualizations covering where the requests are granted -– and which company granted the most requests from 2010 to 2017.
Requests have grown from 27,625 in 2010 to 382,242 in 2017. The figure dipped in 2018 due to the introduction of new data protection laws.
As our use of the internet has grown, so has the number of information requests from countries around the world. But the US certainly leads the field for data requests.
Over a third (35.13%) of requests came from the US in 2017 — and 37.86% of the total requests in 2018.
The US had 151,047 data requests granted from 2010 to 2018. Facebook granted 64,351 requests to the US government, out of a total of 75,208 requests to the company.
Google disclosed 70,908 instances of data to various countries, with 30,332 requests going to the US government.
Apple tops the list of granting requests for data access at 80.13%, followed by Facebook at 74.34% and Google at 66.27%.
At the other end of the scale is Airbnb, which grants only 33.63% of data requests, whilst LinkedIn grants 43.40% of requests.
Although it seems surprising that companies are sending your data everywhere. These tech giants know so much about you already.
With our need for privacy and identity control, we forget that the devices in our pockets are not really ‘ours’. The data that we enter into every device is stored by the tech companies.
They know your name, gender, and date of birth. They know your location, workplace, browser history, politics, interests, and everything you have ever asked Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant.
No wonder other countries around the globe are so interested in what you do online.