We’re hearing a lot about trust today. On the one hand, studies are showing an extreme lack of trust in companies, in particular BigTech. On the other hand, we’re seeing an increase in companies that are going out of their way to build trust. What does it take to earn trust from our audience, our customers – current and prospective? We asked Pernille Tranberg, Co-Founder of DataEthics EU, to help us tackle those questions and more on the GoodTech Vidcast. Proceed to read a recap of the show, or watch it in its entirety here.
In 2012, perhaps way ahead of her time, Pernille and colleague Steffan Heuer, wrote a book called “Fake It – Your Guide to Digital Self-Defense”. Some people called her crazy for writing it, she says “But already back then, a lot of good news websites in the US were critical towards BigTech and Silicon Valley, so we were just following that.We actually read Facebook’s terms and conditions, for example. If you read it back in those days, and you understood it, then you’d never ever give your real data to a company like that. Because they do tell you what they’re doing with your data – it’s just really hard to read and understand it.”
Pernille continues by telling us that she’s made an account on Facebook with a fake name and fake information about herself. She says, “I believe that all kids under 13 should use another name than their own on social media. You’re not 100% protected, but it’s some kind of protection. I could choose to just leave those platforms, but I also need to understand what I’m criticizing as a public speaker. I only give my real data to companies I trust.”
Pernille started out as a journalist. When she left, she started working for the Danish Business Authority, where she tried to convince them that privacy would become really big in the future. When they didn’t listen to her, she left and co-founded her own company, DataEthics EU. “DataEthics EU is a non-profit organization that is trying to make data ethics a competitive advantage,” she explains. “We called it data ethics because we had a feeling that privacy was becoming a worn out terminology, and data ethics is something everybody wants. What we do is promote ethical ways of using data.”
We ask Pernille to tell us what digital tools she deems trustworthy. She tells us that it’s important to use a safe search engine, as well as be very careful when choosing a browser. She says, “You can use Firefox and Safari, because both of them are private by default. If you really have to use Google Chrome, you can install an Ad Blocker. That’s my main advice. Another advice is to use a VPN, that protects your traffic and also helps manipulate your location. Most apps and websites really want you IP address – your location – because it’s worth a lot of money. If they can see your location from the past three months, they know almost everything about you. So you should use a VPN and hide your location. For kids and young people, you should be very aware of the difference between your professional and private profile. When you google me, everything you’ll find is from my professional identity. I don’t think you should expose your private side, and if you want to, you should use private tools. There are a lot of cool privacy-focused tools, giving you an alternative.”
Pernille tells us that it’s important to remember that privacy is the right to control who knows about you, and when. “If you’re a young woman who wants to have a child, you have a right to not tell that to anybody,” she says. “If you’re at a job interview, you don’t have to tell them either. This is your right, to keep that secret as long as you want. When you go and vote for somebody, you go into a secret room, because you have a right to be secret about it and to not be discriminated against. As an individual, it’s also really important to be private for your job possibilities in the future, and for getting insurance or a bank loan.”
When we talk about the future, Pernille thinks it’s very important to set limits. “Do we want to optimize everything with AI? Maybe we should set a limit. That’s what we need to do in the future. For example, I believe we should say no to predicting anything about children, apart from maybe rare diseases. We shouldn’t predict if a child has a 70% risk of ending up with unemployment benefits, because then we’re putting each other in boxes,” she says.
How can companies be competitive and ethical at the same time? Pernille tells us that the advice she’d give those companies trying to do so, is that it’ll take time. “Think about the green movement, the whole climate movement. … It took decades. Things take time. Google invented Surveillance Capitalism back in 2001 – that’s 19 years ago. I think we can make change within 10-15 years. I’m confident that we’ll change it. We have to do something about it. We all have a responsibility. Individuals of course, but also governments to enforce a law, and ethical companies have a responsibility to provide alternatives,” Pernille says. For companies, she advises, reat other people’s data the same way you want your own data to be treated. It’s important to always put the human interest in the center. You should think through if what you’re doing is only for profit, or if you truly have humans at the center. One example is that you might want to have a chatbot on your website. Is that something people want? Is it helping them? You constantly have to put humans at the center. In a democratic society, those in power are big companies and the government, and they should be transparent about how they deal with user power.”
We believe that Pernille is right about that. We’d like to see a world in which companies and governments are completely transparent about what they do with the data users leave on their websites. Your data is yours, and you have the right to choose what to do with it. At Idka, you own your data. There are no ads and no algorithms. Just your data, safe and private. Combined with all of the features you’d want in a platform, such as groups, chat, cloud storage, posts and notes, Idka makes the perfect tool for your organization to work in, effectively and privately. You can easily make your own free account today, just head over to idka.com and sign up.