The revelation by British, Dutch, and American spies of the systematic espionage by Russia was astonishing in many ways. One point to note was how Western governments are using transparency as a tool to counter the actions of the Russian GRU. Through transparency, they aim to sway global public opinion against the Russian government.

The same tool can be used as a tool to combat the ever increasing data collection by tech companies.

Public opinion is arguably already turning against Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but that is just one story. Most users don’t understand just how much data Facebook, Google, and others have about us, and the consequences of this.

As argued by Ben Thompson, forcing companies to provide a view of all the data they have on you, not just the raw data but also the derived data, will give consumers the required information to make a decision on whether they are happy to continue to use the service. We will finally know what these service cost.

Users may decide they are happy to pay that cost, and that’s fine. The market will decide.

Transparency should be used as a tool to hold companies, states, and others1, accountable.

Cover image from Unsplash.

  1. Most people already agree transparency in politics is a crucial part of a free democracy, although there’s still a lot more that needs to be done here… [return]