Ah, cybersecurity and privacy. How we wish for better days when it wasn’t at the forefront of our thoughts every time a website asks us for cookies. With mega corporations such as Facebook vehemently opposing Apple’s restriction on user data extraction, it does set the everyman on edge about their intentions. But in this day and age with perhaps literally every major online platform engaging in user data extraction, how do we in any way figure out what personal information is at stake? It’s not a process that most companies will tout freely.
But another site will. Enter the appropriately named, if not a bit cumbersome to pronounce, JustGetMyData!
The site, an offshoot of JustDeleteMe, makes figuring out how much of your information is available to a site relatively easier. With a database of 37 sites, and the ability to request further addition, its job revolves less around acquiring reports and more around making the process shorter for the general populace. Categorizing websites by color, with green being the easiest to extract information from and red being the hardest, it’s self-stylized mission is to overcome “dark pattern” techniques employed by these very companies by creating a directory of URLs that will redirect users to the right sources.
Dark pattern tactics, for those unaware, are shady techniques used by big corporations in attempts to trick users. Examples are hiding clauses in Terms and Conditions so long that no same person would ever go through them, or allowing them to easily sign up for subscriptions that are notoriously difficult to cancel. All in all, bad stuff. If anyone wishes to further research on the topic to keep themselves more aware, the website darkpatterns.org is rife with types of tactics and associated examples.
JustGetMyData’s work, while not ground-breaking in its approach, is an honest effort which let’s users make more informed decisions about their actions online. Their dedication towards doing research and highlighting deeply buried URLs so the unaware everyman doesn’t have to is nothing short of admirable. So, next time you’re out looking to find out what personal information Adobe (labelled a red in the color categories) collected, but have no idea where to start, maybe JGMD is the right choice to opt for.
This post was written by Arooj Ahmed and was first posted to Digital Information World
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