It turns out you can sabotage data. Amongst the range of weapons being swivelled at big tech in the battle for our privacy, there is one that is dark but effective.
There are now tools out there for sabotaging data, according to MIT and its Technology Review. One extension (called AdNauseam – see what they did there) clicks on every single advert that hits your feed.
The result is there is no pattern for Google or whoever to feed into its money-making algorithms, and so there is zero chance of them being able to deliver meaningful adverts.
Another technique is known as conscious data contribution, and, as you might guess, this means that you consciously give meaningful data – to someone else. For instance, instead of uploading a video, you would normally post to Facebook and post it to Tumblr.
The problem with sabotaging data or some of the other techniques we have come across over the years is scale.
If you decided to sabotage your data by clicking on every advert you are served, it would be you, not Google or Facebook, who felt the pain. If there were an entity that you could sign up to, which was sabotaging data for hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of online users, the reverse would be true.
The number of fronts that have opened up in the privacy wars is growing all the time. From sabotaging data, to data trusts and vendor relationship management initiatives, the impetus is growing. Meanwhile, Governments are attacking the power of big tech from the opposite flank. In China, there is a fierce clampdown happening. In Australia, there was a high profile fight between the Government and Facebook. There are a growing number of antitrust lawsuits being levelled at the giants in the US and elsewhere.
While Governments lead the charge, it is interesting that the momentum is growing so rapidly. While Tim Berners-Lee and others take the high ground, sabotaging data might play its part in the struggle for our valuable data.
And, anyway, sabotaging things sounds quite James Bond.