Photograph — MarTech Today

The past few months have been interesting for Internet users. We have witnessed a series of events that have revealed the political power of Internet companies (particularly in Silicon Valley, and especially Facebook), and the potential harm that could follow if their power is left unchecked.

What followed these events was a series of changes inspired by the European Union’s new set of privacy rules. These rules are contained in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation that will require companies operating in the region to give their users more control over their data. However, because several of these companies are operating on a global scale, their updates reflect in other regions outside the EU, including Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Hence, the reason your inbox is now flooded with those emails notifying you of privacy policy updates.

Privacy policy updates

It is important that you pay attention to the emails sent to you. As much as you can, go through them and make sure you understand the ramifications. Also, it is necessary that you check them and make sure they align with the new requirements that the EU demands.

What do the EU’s new privacy requirements give you?

The EU’s new rules will give you the right to the following:

  1. You have the right to request information about the processing of your personal data and you now have access to the personal data these companies hold about you. For example, you can download all the data Twitter has about you under the ‘Settings and Privacy’ section. Upon request, you will receive your data in a machine-readable format.
  2. You have the right to request that your personal data be deleted completely if it’s no longer needed or if processing it is unlawful.
  3. You can object to the processing of your personal data for marketing purposes. This allows you to opt out of targeted advertising on social media, but it doesn’t mean you will no longer be served ads. It just means you have the option to prevent the company from using your personal data, your tweets, search history, your browsing history, etc., to serve you ads.
  4. Internet companies no longer have exclusive rights to your personal data available on their platforms. You are free to request your data from them and transfer it to another controller. This is called ‘data portability’.
  5. The data portability mandate gives you more leverage as a social media/Internet user. Because you are now in more control of who is in charge of your data and what they use it for.
  6. You can now challenge algorithmic decisions that affect you significantly and ask that humans make them instead.

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