In 2021, more and more internet users are concerned about how their data is used online. Still, despite their concerns, most of them continue disclosing their data online. This has led to the creation of a privacy paradox that explains the behavior of modern internet users where their actions don’t reflect their concerns.

In the internet world, users should own their data and everything that goes with it. However, certain obstacles prevent the world from moving in such a direction. Let’s see why it is so difficult to control data online.

Users Fail to Act on Their Concerns

One of the first difficulties that experts note is that users don’t take actions that match their concerns. It is because data is something intangible and easy to oversee or dismiss as irrelevant. Each time you do something online, you generate data.

Then, most people aren’t aware of data harvesting. All they see are ads, services, marketing offers, etc. There is also the fact that users don’t have the necessary leverage to be able to negotiate better data management.

In case it’s a widely popular digital platform that we’re talking about, many users don’t have an option but to comply with the rules. Leaving such a platform would result in a waste of their time and effort.

Finally, most American users firmly believe that it would be best to have more regulations set in place. However, they don’t take kindly to regulatory solutions being imposed on them.

According to them, it would be much better to have a range of data management tools they can count on to manage their data. Unfortunately, many of them aren’t aware of the hardships and complexity of managing one’s own data. It could become more of a nuisance than a solution in the end.

Possible Solutions

One of the best solutions would be to create a system that gives users direct ownership of their data. There are many initiatives to put that in motion, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act and the GDPR.

Big tech companies are also investing a lot of effort to get ahead of the surge of legislative actions and concerns to determine some ground rules before the regulators take over and do it for them.

Users can request their data if they want to, and companies are usually bound to comply. However, even with this being so, it’s still not a solution for users who wish to switch between digital platforms without any fuss or disturbances. Even though social media platforms work on this, the progress has been slow.

Thus, people who are ready to take matters into their own hands explore options that control the data reaching external entities. Privacy-oriented browsers like Brave have become more popular in the last few years, with more people choosing to block cookies and other digital tracking practices like fingerprinting.

Additionally, many users turn to tools like VPN to elevate their privacy and anonymity online. A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) is essentially an app that encrypts traffic and conceals your true IP address. What does this mean to users? It means that external entities can no longer pinpoint what actions people perform online (such as whether they visit social media networks or other specific websites). Additionally, entities will have a hard time distinguishing their true location, which opens doors to more content and anonymity.

The Challenges of Data Governance

Every form of personal property can be easily regulated; however, data is too complicated to handle successfully. Essentially, it’s still an uncharted territory when you take a better look at it. At the moment, these are the biggest challenges that we know of:

  • Personal data needs more definition in terms of what constitutes it and to which extent the user has exclusive rights over their data.
  • Companies should be very clear on their policies on data-sharing. However, many users still neglect privacy policies and other documents that might provide valuable insights. In some cases, the companies are also too vague about their policies on data.
  • Any way to access, move or store data across digital platforms should be clearly defined.
  • Users should be aware of the risks associated with data abuse and access means to mitigate such risks.

Conclusion

As you can see, controlling data online is a challenging task. There are many variables to think of. We can safely say that user’s concerns will continue to rise. Companies need user data to operate. That’s how things are in the world of the internet. With more and more consumers demanding solutions, it has never been more urgent to solve this situation before things escalate beyond control.