I was sitting at a little coffee shop in the wine country of Stellenbosch, and we're surrounded by so much natural beauty, and it was such a lovely day. All I did was enjoy my breakfast and sit and take in my surroundings, but everywhere around me, people were fixated on their digital devices. I would probably have been too if my battery wasn't dead.
Being in tech I know the dangers of specific user behaviour and how several companies continue to extract data they can use to improve their data modelling for ad platforms to sell to other companies and turn a profit.
We all know that Facebook and Google are tracking the things we do on their websites. We all know Apple and other device manufacturers are tracking what you do with their devices (You never owned your Smartphone, you've been renting it and paying in instalments of the data you provide). We've heard outcries about it and rightly so, but there's data vulnerability and tracking system people don't rant and rave about and that is public WiFi.
WiFi or Why Freedom?
Due to our fixation with the internet, each day people clamour into various stores and restaurants and connecting to their WiFi creating an intricate data map of the places they visit, their frequency, the things they search for, the websites they visit and the intentions they have when using the internet in various places.
When you use a public WiFi, you are at the mercy of the provider, and you're trusting them to run a secure line, which let's be honest your local coffee shop couldn't be bothered about online privacy and securing their WiFi correctly. There are serious dangers and pitfalls to using public WiFif, and I think people need to realise that these small freedoms are things that can quickly erode with time if not stopped.
To use Free WiFi or go WiFi free?
The more we are willing to give away freedoms for the sake of more "free" stuff and "free access, the more these companies and service providers will keep pushing the limits. I realise that most people don't care about their privacy and are willing to contribute their data without a second thought. I understand that people are sheep and are easily manipulated online as they trust everything that comes across their screen.
But what I also realise is that if we do not take a stand and unplug, make it harder for companies to find and collect our data the less profitable they can be. While the manipulation of our data has been seen as innocent by selling products we can see now that it can be used to drive political discourse in certain ways, insight unrest and violence and even push for legislative changes.
Its the company selling you an idea that you sell back to yourself. It's a sort of inception!
Don't air your dirty data in public
While I would never advise anyone to connect to public WiFi, if it is a must, you can do a few things to protect yourself when compared to an open hotspot. My best advice would be to chill out, have a drink and connect when you get home.
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