We are sure: the data will revolutionize the world, but who will really benefit? In 2011, consulting firm Gartner said: "Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the engine of combustion". In spite of this metaphor, each one legitimately raises the question of who tomorrow will be the tycoons of the given ... More, what will be the methods of the giants of today and tomorrow: will they be, like the oil giants in their time , at the limit of legality? Will there be oil spills? Will there be collusion with our policies?

21st Century Petrolueum

Our society, our economy, our lifestyles will be profoundly altered by the data that now carries much of the growth of Western countries. In this sense, it is the oil of the 21st century. But where a landowner got rich from an oil well on his land, what about our data? What is their value? Will she come back to us? Every day, every moment, each one of us generates a lot of personal or professional data, data belonging to himself, his company or published on the Internet or harvested by third parties.

The tools to protect privacy, property, the right to know, modify, delete are multiple: intellectual property, CNIL, French law, international rights ... But what about the value of these data? The information from your connected watch, your smartphone but also your photographs, videos, digital invoices, appointments of your agenda speak of you in your place. They define, far more than you think, what you are, look for, appreciate ...

Your relationships and comments on Facebook can infer many traits of your personality ... Including your sexual orientation. The more you are on the web, the more the profile companies have will be precise and will target your expectations. Your profile is not just what you enter into your personal information: it is the result of complex algorithms developed by experts in machine learning and big data. So, some articles say that your bank can predict your divorce before you even start taking action! It is obvious today that our data are today the main value of Internet businesses.

Valorisation at any price and the temptation to cheat


That's why many companies offer free mail, data sharing services. The datum has value only if it is massive. Having services that allow global users to collect their users' data is vital for GAFAM - Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft - who are masters in the valuation and monetization of our personal data.

In this unrestrained race, algorithms that customize and improve our favorite services can sometimes be considered ethically debatable, even contrary to the law. In the context of Machine Learning applied to personal data, companies are systematically confronted with serious ethical questions and legislation. Numerous examples demonstrating the complexity of controlling and enforcing the law. For example, the investigation launched in May 2017 against Uber and his algorithm Greyball allowing him to detect the police officers and thus escape the controls. One could also cite the experiments carried out in great secrecy by Facebook and the uninvited Facebook-Tinder collisions. Justice and the police are confronted with algorithms and are still today lacking in front of these complex cases defying the traditional rules of our societies.


Future data "oil spills"

If the data is the new oil, what happens when the data escapes? Whether it is the work of pirates who voluntarily steal data or are accidental escapes, no one is immune. The news is full of revelations of large-scale incidents. One can cite the theft of 412 million accounts of the site of meeting AldultFriendFinder in 2016 or an error that allowed the dispersion of confidential information on the members of the G20. Other examples could be used to illustrate these massive leaks, but there is a much greater danger to users.


Thus, many sites trade in your login data, but beyond the sale, the information is aggregated from different sources to make them more relevant to hackers. Basic security rules dictate that users do not use the same login and password on different sites. But honestly did not you happen to derogate from this rule?

If this is the case, hackers have been able to retrieve different information from several leaks in order to rebuild your digital identity (ies). This information may allow you to enter other information systems or use your credentials to mislead your personal or business relationships.

Beyond the known leaks, how many companies have not communicated on data leaks or, even worse, how many do not know that their data are compromised? Companies may be the victim of ransom attempts. In March 2017, a group of hackers claimed to be able to compromise hundreds of thousands of iCloud accounts if a ransom was not paid. Bluff or reality? Apple did not communicate on this subject nor on the payment or not of the ransom. And, of course, there was the WannaCry case.

Oil spills are visible on our beaches, data leaks are not and are often hidden from the general public. As you read this, it's not impossible that hackers will watch your holiday photos on Google Drive while listening to your Deezer playlist (rest assured, it's not the same password ...) Like a bird that tries to extricate itself from the oil in which it is stuck, will you be able to survive the flight of all your data?


A strong geopolitical issue

Let us not be naive: mastering the data is a primordial geopolitical stake. There is often a tendency, and large groups are involved, to believe that the Internet, the cloud and all the tools around the data are beyond any notion of nationality. Now, on closer inspection, the United States, and California in particular, are hegemonic about our data. Caricatured to the extreme, to the question "Who benefits from the explosion of our data? ", One answer might be: Silicon Valley.

To convince oneself of the geopolitical aspect of the data, let us note for example the decision of the American justice, confirmed on appeal on April 19 last, to oblige Google to provide the data stored outside the United States. China has also understood this by pursuing a policy of determined protectionism that allowed the BATXs (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and Xiaomi) to thrive in the face of GAFAM. The BATX, strongly supported by the Chinese state, now aim to conquer the international market and Europe in particular.


OPEC of the data

The latter seems stuck in an outdated view of computers and the Internet. The beneficiaries of the explosion of data will be numerous in Europe: telephone operators and digital services companies: they will benefit from this revolution. And we will not forget the many start-ups that emerge around the Internet of objects and data analysis. But let's not be mistaken, the only real beneficiaries of the explosion of data will be those who will own them within their data-centers! Will GAFAM and other BATXs create, thanks to their infrastructures, the OPEC of the data that will fix the course of your data on the world markets?

Source: www.theconversation.com - June 14th, 2017