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How much privacy can there be in the decade of data?
Your phone, your watch, your home – as long as it has a smart in front of its name it has your data. With every click you make, every location you track and every question you ask Siri or Google, your information is being harvested. The collection of users' personal information improves consumer experiences and delivered services, yet also poses additional online threats and risks. The past decade has demonstrated several cases proving that sometimes it is not only a risk, but a certain danger. With that in mind, what kind of privacy hazards could come our way in the 2020s?
As we see it now, governments will continue to excerpt stricter control over user data and tighten security. This may be blamed on intensifying terrorism and instability in the world and worryingly wide access to users' personal information from businesses.
Data at RiskCrowd walking over binary code
While the rationale behind the above is clear, enhanced access to user data naturally implies many risks, such as unauthorized access and consequently compromising privacy or even leaking information.
The biggest challenge posed to regulating parties will always be: constantly adapting regulations at the same speed new technologies are being developed. We currently don't see a huge trend in companies changing their behavior in dealing with user data. The only improvement is that users are being asked to give their consent over how the data is used, and it is now mandatory in many countries. We don't see any strong trend in adding real life security for protecting sensitive user data. Moreover, there's already a growing gap between regulation and real life practice. With the latter being much faster – we have toothless regulations as result.
Advice here is simple – try to limit your data-sharing patterns online. Avoid exposing your data and sensitive information unless it is necessary.
Cyber Battle for Privacy
The trends outlined above will clearly drive privacy protection technologies. Tech-savvy users will know their way around such solutions, with more technologies arising to circumvent them – inevitably extending the arms race in this area.
At the same time, users will become more proactive when it comes to their privacy, and this will influence higher demand for password managers, VPN services, tokens for two-factor authentication (2FA) and special privacy solutions. However, protection mechanisms like 2FA tokens and password managers are just at the endpoint, while attacks and misuse are often happening at the backend. These tools are good and needed to protect the local environment but do not protect against attacks and abuse of the utilized systems like the cloud for example. VPNs are useful to protect against data collection in certain scenarios - like real IP-addresses or geolocation - but still do not protect against voluntarily shared data by users with services like Google and Facebook etc.Advice here is keep an eye on new ways to protect your privacy and use only trusted solutions. Invest your time in exploring the issue because security of your privacy is not just a new luxury – it is as essential as brushing your teeth every day.
Amusing online tests and other applications that gamify the processing of user data harvesting and collection will still be around as they bring engagement to owners and entertainment to users. However, while compromising their data – and this is why their enduring popularity should not stay unnoticed, nor underestimated.
Advice here is to, if possible, not take part in unnecessary applications of the kind and do not share your private information. Nothing comes for free, and if something does – it is mostly paid for with your discreetly collected data.
Fighting Public Manipulation
These attacks are happening for many years already – and there is no reason for them to stop. The upcoming decade will not only open yet another round in the political pendulum of global society due to a new US presidential election – new technology for fake visual and audio IDs already exist. These two factors will bring undesired attention and abuse from all sorts of parties. The good thing is that where there is action, there is also reaction – and we definitely can count on new methods to withstand the risks of public manipulation.
What does it have to do with privacy? If you're not vigilant, your data could be exploited in these manipulated visual and audio IDs. To protect yourself from this, do not expose yourself if you are not sure you are dealing with a proven and truly secure platform.
IoT vendors will start investing in security on a new scale
The last few years have been very turbulent for the cybersecurity industry. Hacks and specific malware, data breaches, geopolitical tensions and disinformation campaigns across the globe – you name it - have all caused challenges.
We think that this sort of activity will push vendors to a new level of collaboration for the sake of security. Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance have announced the creation of a new working group to develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among IoT products, with security as a fundamental design tenet. Hopefully, others will follow their lead.
In that sense, the 2020s will be an interesting decade filled with both challenges and opportunities.
Videos we love: Five amazing sci-fi shows that predict the future of tech
Technology could go anywhere in future. We ask you, which of these five sci-fi on-demand TV shows predicts it best?
Which sci-fi series gets our tech future right?
Predicting the future of tech is hard. These five on-demand sci-fi TV shows all predict different technological futures for humankind. Which do you think is closest to the truth?
Watch on Amazon Prime
In a new twist on the superhero saga, in Alphas, a select few humans have developed super senses, but they're also plagued by harmful drawbacks. For the crime-fighting supergroup, their strengths and flaws act as both help and hindrance.
Watch on Netflix
Set in a future where consciousness is digitized and stored in human spines, people can survive physical death by having their memories and consciousness "re-sleeved" into new bodies. What could go wrong?
Watch on Netflix
Could technology alter memory and perception? Will AI be our friend or foe? Can we tell a digital human from a real one? This anthology of self-contained future worlds will satisfy the most curious minds, but is not for the faint-hearted.
Brave New World
Watch on Amazon Prime
This 2020 adaptation loosely based on Aldous Huxley's influential 1932 novel envisions a perfect, happy society, where everyone knows their place. But, with advanced genetic technology, is it possible?
Watch on BBC iPlayer (UK only)
In a world where quantum computing can predict all human behavior (ouch,) humanity places its trust in a crack team of developers to restore their freedom.
There you have it – our five favorite sci-fi shows predicting a technological future. Which stands out for you, and why? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook and see what others say. And at Tomorrow Unlocked, we have our own predictions for the future of tech. Strap in – this is Imagine Beyond.
Videos we like: Documentaries on how COVID-19 changed our world
How much will our lives change after COVID-19? We look at five of the most powerful documentaries made during the pandemic.
How did filmmakers see COVID-19?
The global community meets an invisible enemy, and must race against the clock to save humanity – COVID-19 is a compelling story. How was it seen by filmmakers around the world? These five must-see documentaries from creatives worldwide exploring different sides of the pandemic.
76 Days (above)
Directed by Hao Wu and Weixi Chen
What was Wuhan like in the pandemic's early days? Wonder no more. This acclaimed documentary is a poignant snapshot of struggle and resilience in the battle to survive the coronavirus.
Directed by Didi Mae Hand
The pandemic stretched hospital resources more than ever. Among the first to take advantage of the struggle was a wave of deadly hackers. Follow as the healthcare system fights the virus on two fronts.
Part of a series commissioned by Tomorrow Unlocked.
Directed by Ai WeiWei
Each country responded differently to the outbreak. China's was one of military and extreme efficiency. But what impact did that response have on their people? Behind the scenes of China's battle against a silent killer, directed by acclaimed artist Ai WeiWei.
Eight countries, one global pandemic
Directed by Great Big Story
This heartwarming documentary follows eight households from across the globe every day through the pandemic, to see how different families coped with lockdown.
Directed by Adam Benzine
The Trump administration's response to COVID-19 receives an insightful, highly emotional look from Academy Award-nominated director Adam Benzine.
It wasn't just professionals capturing the pandemic through a lens. During lockdown, we asked creatives worldwide to capture one hour from their pandemic experience. Watch the playlist we made from these moments – TWELVE.