Privacy and consent policies regarding the use and treatment of user’s data in the tech industry are inefficient. The flaws and bias of the software we build are evident and well-known — and yet most of us like to think of ourselves as exempt from its reach and consequences.
The miseducation of users
We, as consumers of digital products, are used to receiving complicated and even deceptive messages regarding our rights on the information we share with companies.
We rarely had the chance to participate in the conversation, and now we’re living in an era of surveillance and big-data discrimination.
It is impossible for individuals to anticipate the ways their information might be used and re-used, never mind be aware of the potential for big data discrimination.
Our digital habits and decisions are part of a bigger picture and the misinformation we live in is not helping to make us realize we need to ask for a change.
It’s hard to see a solution to a massive and widely spread problem like this, yet many organizations are fighting for data sovereignty and consent-driven technology.
As Danielle Leong pointed in this post about consensual software, we need to prioritize user’s trust and safety when designing and developing our products. Therefore, actively asking for consent should be a widely used pattern instead of a coincidence.
Cookie notices are a good starting point: the majority of implementations offer no meaningful choice to opt-out, using dark patterns to force the user to accept while taking away their right to consent. Consequently, writing more understandable notices and allowing users to withdraw their consent will improve their experience and empower them to make more informed decisions.
In essence, rethinking the way we implement solutions and educating users and professionals to pursue a more democratic and transparent treatment of personal information are pivotal to solve one of the most critical problems in the tech industry.