12 reasons why you should care about your personal information

Industries that benefit from tracking your online behaviour

Online, all your actions generate data. Every picture you post, email you send and trip you book collectively shape your digital identity. That identity is not temporary. Instead, that identity is logged, analyzed and sold to the highest bidder.

We compiled a list of industries with examples of how these ‘third parties’ benefit from your data. Advertising is not the only industry feeding off your digital whereabouts. Read on to learn about your digital self. You deserve to know.

1. Banking. Know who lists and shares your monetary expenses
Your spending habits, automated payments and people or parties you exchange money with reveal a lot about you.

2. Medical. Know who can access records about your physical or mental health Would you allow your insurance to look into your online searches for ‘losing weight’ or exercise (in)activity on that nifty running app?

3. Insurance. Know how informed your insurance is
Your eligibility for insurance is often based on what you ask Google, not what you tell them. What seems a discount to you might be a real bargain for them.

4. Social. Know what Terms & Conditions you say ‘yes’ to
With a smartphone in your pocket, you’re practically connected 24/7. Would you mind ‘free’ social networks tracking what you talk about, where and with whom day and night?

5. Housing. Know how your landlord decides if you get the house
Applied for a rental place but didn’t get it? Maybe the landlord used software to automate the selection process for a ‘trustworthy’ tenant.

6. Stores. Know how your type of PC affects what you pay online
Using an Apply product when booking flights and hotels? Chances are you pay a higher fare. This calls for retailer transparancy.

6. Traveling. Know who tracks your air travels
Based on your digital activity, airlines can refuse you access to the airplane, or even a country. Thieves will know when you’re not at home.

7. Work. Know what your future employers know
Your future manager can purchase a profile of things you don’t want her to know. At least not before you meet in person.

8. Politics. Know the unpredictability of elections
You might live in a country where you trust the government, but what if anything changes? You can’t predict what you want to keep to yourself in the future.

9. Email. Know that ‘save draft’ means ‘send to third party’
Composing an email to your friend in Gmail, but decided not to send it? The content of that draft gets profiled nonetheless.

10. Criminals. Know your alter egos
Strangers can buy many of the details they need to perform illegal financial transactions. Imagine someone ordering a pizza or buying a car from your account.

11. Identities. The social setting determines your behaviour
What is socially apt to say and do on a night with friends differs from the monday morning meeting at work. You should be in control.

12. Legacy. Family and kids
Your kids’ pictures, grades and medical files should be theirs, and they should be the one deciding who to allow or deny access. Take your responsibility for their sake.

SOVERIN – Yours. Truly.


Email waar je voor betaalt. Met geld. Niet met privégegevens.

Ellenlange ‘Terms & Conditions’ met een nog nét niet knipperende ‘AGREE HERE’ button. Waar we precies mee instemmen en welke rechten we weggeven weten maar weinigen van ons. Je hoort en leest van alles in de media, presidentskandidaat Hillary Clinton maakte de fout om gevoelige informatie via haar persoonlijke mail te versturen (een actie die haar in de verkiezingen erg duur is komen te staan), maar wat is er nu echt aan de hand? Wij hebben toch niets te verbergen?! De jacht op data loopt uit de hand en wij staan erbij en kijken ernaar.

Soverin bedacht daarom een bewust alternatief voor ‘gratis’ e-mail. Dit betekent dat data van gebruikers nooit doorverkocht wordt en Soverin inzichtelijk maakt hoe de technologie achter persoonlijke e-mail werkt. Zo houden gebruikers controle over wat er met hun e-mailverkeer en data gebeurt en zijn écht eigenaar van het e-mailadres dat zij aanmaken: een eigen soevereine plek op het web.

 

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‘Bedrijven als Google weten alles. Dat ervaren wij als een groot probleem.’

 

OVER SOVERIN

Privacy-voorvechter Jons Janssens en business partner Diana Krieger zijn onderdeel van de groep jonge, Amsterdamse internetondernemers achter Soverin. Ze konden niet langer toekijken en komen nu met een alternatief. E-mail waar je voor betaalt. Met geld. Niet met je privégegevens zoals bij ‘gratis’ email providers. “Met Soverin willen we een eerlijk alternatief bieden voor Gmail. En we beginnen bij de basis: eerlijke e-mail in een overzichtelijk design zonder toeters en bellen”, aldus Jons.

Soverin is een technologiebedrijf van Amsterdamse bodem. Diana: “Zie ons als een kleine groep enthousiastelingen die hun ondernemerservaring willen inzetten om digitale producten te ontwikkelen die ook veilig, mooi en gebruiksvriendelijk zijn.” Het team is gedreven om de status quo te veranderen en willen actief het bewustzijn rondom digitale privacy vergroten. Hun missie: privé-communicatie voor iedereen. Onlangs verschenen er de nodige gerelateerde artikelen en zelfs een erg relevant boek van Nederlandse bodem:

 

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Waarom gaan we steigeren als we zien dat iemand de post heeft geopend voordat hij op deurmat valt, maar niet als onze e-mails, bijlagen en contacten structureel gelezen, ‘geprofiled’ en verkocht worden? Het is tijd voor een eerlijk en transparant alternatief. – Diana Krieger, CEO Soverin

 

SOVERIN’S PRINCIPES
Privacy doet ertoe, vooral in een maatschappij waar wij onze privacy steeds vaker onbewust weggeven. Soverin staat voor veiligheid, eenvoud en gebruiksvriendelijkheid. Ondanks deze praktische basis, zet Soverin volop in op creativiteit om zoiets serieus als privacy positief en aantrekkelijk uit te leggen.

Technical issues

This morning we have experienced some technical issues that caused connectivity problems for a part of our users. We have found and resolved the issues and around 10:08 CET we have restored the connections of the users involved. We have done an update of our infrastructure with short impact on the availability on your email, the website and the webmail at around 11:30 CET.

As this was a connectivity issue we can confirm that no emails have been lost and that all incoming emails have been received.

We will get back to you with a post on what happened and what we have done to prevent this from happening again. If you have any questions in the mean time please do not hesitate to contact us via support@soverin.net.

Our apologies for the inconvenience this has caused.

Team Soverin.

Little tip on WhatsApp’s changed privacy policy

It’s something that could be expected in this age of Big data. Companies like Facebook trying to create an even more accurate profile of you and using products they bought to do it.

Facebook bought a while ago messaging app WhatsApp and is now changing it’s privacy policy so it can use the data that WhatsApp knows about it’s users. Facebook communicates this change as being a way to make companies able to get in touch with their community. It might even open the possibility to advertise on WhatsApp. How’s that for the original slogan “Why we don’t sell ads?” [https://blog.whatsapp.com/245/Why-we-dont-sell-ads?]

Remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch. When a product is free (as in beer), you’re probably the product.

As a current user of WhatsApp you they offer you a choice if you want to allow Facebook to use all the data from WhatsApp to enrich the profile they already have on you. They will still collect the data, but promise not to use it for profiling (for now). How you can set this is neatly explained in their FAQ: “How do I choose not to share my account information with Facebook to improve my Facebook ads and products experiences?” [https://www.whatsapp.com/faq/general/26000016]

Something to read:
FAQ of WhatsApp on their policy change:
https://www.whatsapp.com/faq/general/28030012

WhatsApp’s license:
https://www.whatsapp.com/legal/?l=en

 

Visualizing the elements of your identity

You see things more clearly when you take a step back and look at it from the outside of the tornado. That’s why we mapped the elements that form a digital identity. What are the names, numbers and profiles that make up… you?

Identity is (also) labels, numbers and names
The idea is built on how people gradually grow into their identity. Newborns start off clean and form a type of identity other people, companies and governments can relate to. That part of identity is just a bunch of names and numbers stuck on a person. These details play an important and often overlooked role in everyday life. It’s the way you interact with the digital as well as the physical world.

You need an identity to comfortably move through daily life.

A map of the elements of your identity
Our goal is to visualise what elements form your identity. It starts with personal details and biometrics, but the information piles up when you start using certain products and services. All this usage generates data that reveals something about your daily life. That’s why it’s so valuable.

This list shows the elements companies and governments use to help, but also target, you. People with bad intentions do so, too. It matters to be aware of who knows what. We organised the elements in the following categories:

A. PERSONAL > From human to person

  • Administrative
  • Biometrics
  • Documents
  • Security

B. PRODUCTS > Objects that generate data

  • Phone
  • Tablet
  • Notebook
  • Desktop
  • Wearables
  • Bike
  • Motorcycle
  • Car
  • Boat
  • Airplane

C. SERVICES > Actions that generate data

Basic services that are hard to live without

  • Government
  • Financial
  • Insurance
  • Communication
  • Energy
  • Medical

Additional services that benefit life

  • Communication
  • Entertainment
  • Travel
  • Housing
  • Retail
  • Leisure
  • Online

Help us build the overview
Here is a complete overview of the list in PDF. We’ll convert this is into a clarifying visual. But not before we asked you to complement the list. You might see what we’ve missed. If so, email us.

Know where to draw the line
The next step is to learn what your data footprint is. It might help you to organise your life a little better. Or start with a truly clean slate. What digital traces do you leave behind? You decide. Where do you draw the line?

  • Banks know what you pay for
  • Insurers know your mistakes and diseases
  • Telcos know who you call and text
  • Google knows what you search for
  • Gmail knows what you write
  • Youtube knows what you watch
  • Facebook knows what you are doing and with whom
  • Amazon knows what products you buy
  • Apple knows where you and your phone are

 

Data. Why should I care?

Technology is great, but it can be used for good and bad. Sometimes it even feels magical, but it’s always hard to understand. We want people to be aware and make a conscious decision about the products and services they use. Let’s be honest. Nobody reads a privacy statement. You just click ‘Accept’, without knowing what you sign up for. That’s unfair.

 

The current business model of the internet is surveillance. Every click, tap or visit you make is tracked and profiled. So please remember. If it’s ‘free’, you are the product.

 

In the current state, data usage is the pollution of our Information Age. Just like oil was in the Industrial Age. Looking back, we should have made different decisions. But it’s hard to make decision for the long term, when you’re in the eye of the tornado. As we are now. We need rethink the bargain we have with the data industry. What is the true cost of the dominant ’free’ business model?

To raise awareness we made an extensive overview of content that tells the story of data in our modern day and age. We see public opinion changing and people are waking up. We often get the feeling: “This can’t really be true.” People just don’t know what’s going on. We like to try and broaden your vision. Hope these videos and articles help.

All this content explains why you should care about your data. One video, article and book at a time. Privacy matters. Let’s start with two interesting quotes.

 

“Arguing that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” – Edward Snowden (NSA whistleblower)

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” – Eric Schmidt (CEO Google)

 

Everything below is interesting, but here is our Top 3:

  1. A talk by Bruce Schneier ‘Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World’ (40 min)
  2. An interview by John Oliver with Edward Snowden: ‘Government Surveillance’ (30 min)
  3. An interactive documentary by Arte: ‘Do not track’ (80 min)

 

To watch:

Wake up calls (3 min):

Talks (15+ min):

Documentaries (30+ min):

 

To read:

About examples and consequences:

About how public opinion is changing:

About the ‘Nothing to hide?’ argument:

About books:

Look for the titles of Bruce Schneider, Jaron Lanier, Julia Angwin and Evgeny Morozov. We’ve listed some here.

Interview in Remarkable magazine.

Remarkable is a great independent magazine about remarkable humans doing and making remarkable things. They got us at ‘live better, harm less’. This is the interview they did with one of our founders.

It’s basically a fair alternative to ‘free’ email services out there. If you send an email
now, it’s like sending a postcard because it travels through the Internet in plain text. But encryption is so technically complicated that we wanted to create a service so simple even my mum can use it. That’s the level of simplicity we want. We operate under clear principles and believe that communication should be simple, private and sustainable.

Continue reading…

You’ve been profiled.

Ok, but what does that mean? It’s hard to get a grasp of what profiling really means. And why should care. Well get ready for this. British spies have definitely overstepped. They track web users’ every digital move. From radio to porn. Everything is tracked. It’s another wake up call. GCHQ even calls them the “Karma police”. Not cool.

Please read this insightful article.

There was a simple aim at the heart of the top-secret program: Record the website browsing habits of “every visible user on the Internet.”

Before long, billions of digital records about ordinary people’s online activities were being stored every day. Among them were details cataloging visits to porn, social media and news websites, search engines, chat forums, and blogs.