In the past week, we have seen the European Union lay multiple fines on noteworthy companies. These occurred for varying reasons, and mark just one in a long line of infractions. Let’s take a looks at two of the largest fines doled out in the past 7 days.
Google and the $57 million blunder
Google received a fine to the tune of $57 million by French regulators. This was enforced due to Google’s violation of data-privacy laws.
Unfortunately, despite the size of the fine, it is simply a drop in the bucket for Google. It should be noted that this fine comes on the heels of a staggering $5 billion fine levied against Google earlier in 2018. What’s another $57 million?
If you thought that Google’s $57 million fine would sting, MasterCard was hit with a $650 million fine in the same week.
Rather than violations due to privacy concerns, MasterCard was found to have breached antitrust rules. This stemmed from market manipulations, by artificially raising processing fees, effectively stealing from retailers, and by domino effect, from consumers.
The point in discussing these fines is not their size, but the companies behind them. Both Google and MasterCard are companies that have become ingrained into society. They are often trusted without second thought, as they are market leaders. Many believe that there is no way, or need, for companies of their stature to commit such violations. These trusted institutions should, in my opinion, absolutely not be trusted.
These companies often paint themselves as the pinnacle of safety – an image full of hypocrisy. Some of the most blatant examples of hypocrisy are the public statements made of crypto by financial institutions such as JP Morgan, etc. For instance, JP Morgan, a prominent detractor of Bitcoin, was fined $12.5 million in December for money laundering. This came after being fined $65 million in June for market manipulation. Not exactly the type of company one would want to trust with their money…yet millions do, due to complacency or ignorance to the true nature of the conglomerates.
While Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are not without fault, they do not have CEOs and Managing Directors actively making the decisions to break the law. These currencies bring transparency and democracy back to finance.
It is due to instances such as those described above that has given rise to companies such as BRAVE. This blockchain based company has based its entire mission statement on the premise that its users are not ‘products’. Companies should not be capitalizing on user data for free. The owners of that data should have control of it, and should receive compensation if their data is used.
BRAVE caught the attention of many, in early 2018, as they have actively been petitioning for companies such as Google to be reprimanded by regulatory bodies. Their words have not gone unheard, as made evident by recent fines.
The flagship product of BRAVE is their browser, which supports the use of their token BAT. This allows for the appropriate compensation of content producers. In addition, the company has taken a strong stance on privacy, essentially giving power back to people.
Opinion on Data Collection
Data is powerful – in a world in which we are increasingly connected through the IoT, it is important to recognize this. Everyday consumers should not be taken advantage of by large corporations, and monetized as a product.
The public needs to steer away from the complacency that has permeated society with regards to privacy.