Is there a Faust inside each of us?

You don't need to read between the lines, do you?

Of course you remember Goethe's masterpiece Faust. He was living a successful life and yet he was not satisfied, he wanted some more and to have that he made a deal with the Devil.

Well, i was brought back to this when reading a news about a start up offering to pay me, and you, 8$ a month to share my data, the ones I have on Facebook, the tweets, even my credit card transactions...

Apparently my privacy is worth less than 100$ a year! I started to get angry but then, wait a moment...

This start up, Datacoup, is offering 96$ a year for my data, that's peanuts but it is much more than what Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Amex... are offering me for my data!

They plan to make money by leveraging on those data, mine and the ones from millions of others, and selling trends, information of various kind where my identity is masked (actually it is nowhere associated since they make statistical analyses). That is, may be in a more indirect way what Facebook&Co are doing. Looking at my data to push advertisement and sell this capabilities to advertisers.

We have actually accepted that by disclosing, implicitly or explicitly our behaviour/identity we may get better services and for this "better" we are selling our soul, our privacy. That's not too much different from Faust. He didn't have Internet nor Google to trade with so he had to do with the Devil...

What makes me think is the change of culture that is slowly taking place because of "habits". We still consider as "bad" to negotiate with the Devil, but we have a more permissive attitude when we implicitly negotiate with the virtual space. And yet, the virtual space is surely more tangible (at least in my opinion) than the Devil (have a look, read, "The broken Window" by Jeffery Deaver, and you see what I mean).

It is true that most of the time we don't realise how much of ourselves we are giving away through the access to the Web and sometimes we underestimate the potential impact. 

At the EIT ICT LABS we are looking into the aspects of Privacy (and Security and Trust) knowing well that technology is just an enabler and it does not provide certainties. I guess that just by raising awareness would be an important step. 

As of today my name appears on Google search 128,000, didn't check them al and I am sure that many of these occurrences refer to someone else. However, just by looking at some hundreds of them I found out that those were referring to me and quite a few were about something I completely forgot, and some were about something I din't know (my name being mentioned by someone else...). It is amazing, but it is also a bit scaring.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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