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Virtual Business Solutions has been serving the Metairie area since 1999, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Big Tech is Bigger Than You Realize

Big Tech is Bigger Than You Realize

As technology seeps into every part of everyday life, the market for technology has exploded. This has led to technology companies growing to be massive and seemingly uncontrollable entities. Let’s take a look at big tech and its effect on society. 

What Is Big Tech?

Big Tech can be summarized as a series of companies that control a large part of the working Internet. When you look to identify the companies that make up the so-called big tech, you don’t have to look too far. The companies most identified with this moniker are some of the most successful companies in the world at the time of this writing. They include the big five:

In the United States, some of the other companies that are often considered big tech include:

There are several other companies abroad that could be included as big tech, regardless of their affiliation with host countries’ governments. They include:

All of these companies not only have a market capitalization value of over $17 billion and most, if not all, have been making billions of dollars in profit for years. The size of these companies hasn’t happened by mistake as most of them not only offer products and services that are widely used by the population, they also have set a standard for the way they use customer data. That’s what we will take a look at today.

Big Tech’s Use of Personal Information

It first has to be said that a lot of the way these huge technology companies function echoes the way that large industrial companies functioned at the turn of the 20th century in America. It took decades before proper regulation was enacted to effectively break up monopolies in the early part of the 20th century and as these tech companies grow and swallow up their competition, it will be on the governments of the world to step up and forcibly regulate this non-competitive behavior. Since one of the largest revenue strains is the acquisition and sale of individual’s personal data, it creates a situation where these companies take on a large responsibility and if there isn’t any regulation to how these firms conduct business, they can quickly take advantage of their authority. 

For over a decade, as the demand for Internet-based advertising grew, so did these companies’ reliance on capturing as much data as they could. This practice is at its high water mark even though there have been major strides made in legislative circles to try and limit the power these tech companies have over their users. Unfortunately, since these are some of the most lucrative businesses in world history, lawmakers have found regulating these businesses to be extremely difficult. 

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself from Big Tech

If you are like the billions of people around the world that gravitate toward using these companies’ products, you need to understand your role in protecting yourself, and improving your own data privacy (as these companies aren’t going to willfully do it for you). 

  1. Use Alternatives - There are alternatives to using services produced by big tech. Obviously, Google Search is the most utilized search engine but there are others like DuckDuckGo that provide a search engine with completely anonymous search results. Limit the amount of personal information that you put on social media, as anything you share is inevitably part of the consumer profile the companies produce on you.
  2. Pay to Clean Up Your Online Profiles - Another thing you can do is pay for a service that will delete your personal information. Services like LifeLock will search the internet and scrub any of your personal information that is out there. This service does come with costs and an annual subscription (of course), but can be a good way toward controlling the amount of places your personal information shows up. 
  3. Have Good Password Hygiene - This won’t help combat big tech’s constant surveillance, but it will protect you should the data they collect just be hanging out online. Create strong and unique passwords for every account and check sites like HaveIBeenPwned.com to see if you have been the victim of a data leak somewhere. 
  4. Use a VPN - While not all VPNs are created equal, they can be great tools to obscure your physical location and where you navigate online. They encrypt browsing histories and can even hide you from your ISP to ensure that you get access to regionally unavailable content. One tip is to use a VPN that you don’t get on the various app stores because they can often come with bloatware attached, while some do exactly what the big tech companies do and harvest your information for their own profit. 

Only time will tell if governments reel in these companies' data collection and sharing practices. The European Union has created the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which works to hold big tech companies accountable for individuals’ data privacy. It has cost big tech companies in excess of €2.1 billion in fines in 2023 alone and it seems to be rising every year.

It seems inevitable that we are forced to do business with Big Tech, but you don’t have to allow them unfettered access to your personal information. For more great technology-related articles, return to our blog soon. 

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Friday, 19 April 2024

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