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In the 1900s, oil was discovered in the state of Texas and revolutionized the US economy. Coming right on the heels of the industrial revolution, oil had became one of the most valuable resources on the planet, and that meant anyone who owned the land it was found on now found themselves in various states of fortune. Texas grew from a mostly rural state to one of the most populous in the country, and this to date still has several major cities in the top ten list.

The phrase "data is the new oil" is a bit controversial in tech circles, mostly for nit-picking reasons. Detractors argue that unlike data, oil is a finite resource and that it is only valuable in bulk after being refined. However, according to Forbes, the top most valuable brands in the world in 2019 were Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, all companies notorious for their data collection and targeted-advertising. No matter how you interpret it, data is a moneymaker.

Most of us are not strangers to the concept of surveillance capitalism and targeted advertising. Most of us don't particularly care, either. After all, who wouldn't want relevant ads for movies or products that might actually appeal to you or improve your life? The thing is, most of us don't understand the aggressive measures these companies go to to create those marketing profiles, or the devastating effects they can have on people.

It may sound paranoid, but it's actually a credible fact that entire companies exist simply to collect your data and build profiles on you, and in their minds the ends will always justify the means. Often they collect data in ways that range from questionable to straight-up illegal, collecting information that no sane person would willingly consent to, but they do it in ways you can't detect. When your deepest, most personal secrets are a data point for a marketing agency, abuse of any kind is only a small step away, as could be seen in 2019 when the Egyptian government tracked opponents and activists through phone apps, the Moroccan government spied on the phones of human rights defenders, and the Chinese government hacked Asian telecommunications companies to spy on the Uighur, a minority Muslim ethnic group living in China.

It sounds far-fetched, like something from a dystopian sci-fi movie, but just a few of the factual methods of data collection include using high-pitched tones that only electronic devices (aka phones) can hear to report how many people are watching a TV show, collecting sale information, tracking your search history, tracking your car as you drive through the real world, tracking your phone as you browse the store to see where you spend the most time, collecting your DNA from family heritage testing services, selling your information to public data websites, government agencies selling your driver's license information, and more.

"Wow," you may say, "that's intense. But why should I care? I have nothing to hide."

Why Care About Privacy

Why Care About Security