I’m sorry, I’m not going to sign the box with my personal data

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Something before the pandemic broke out, I was in Madrid for one of the Xataka Live recordings. I no longer live there and that ends at so many, so I spent the night in the capital. When I arrived at the hotel with my boss – the final boss from Xataka— and ask to do the check in, the receptionist told me that I also had to sign “this little sheet”. He said it as if it were just another formality, but I read the DIN A5 and I got a black moon emoji face: that document was an authorization for the processing of my data by the hotel. And I dropped the bomb: “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to sign this.”

Something short-circuited in the receptionist’s head for a couple of seconds, probably used to the servile autograph that asks no questions. “But if it’s just the transfer of data,” he replied. “Sure, for that very reason,” I told him. I considered for a couple of seconds if I was going to be inflexible, but I came to the conclusion that this authorization could only be useful if the hotel needed to call me on my mobile for some reason or if I forgot something. I was staying there for one night and leaving early the next day, so if the hotel needed to contact me, I would be in my room, and I would be careful not to leave any shoes under the bed when I left. Any other use of my data was to be for the benefit of the hotel, not mine.

Meanwhile, my boss looked at the ground with a face of “I’ve already seen this movie, I know how it ends and I don’t like the ending”. The receptionist made a face of incomprehension, he told me that “okay” and I went to sleep thinking about what a damn time it was normalized to ask for mail and mobile to cultivate a free database to which spam.

Serve this anecdote to illustrate the terrifying time that we have had to live in terms of privacy. Data is the new gold and this war is about smart people against the innocent, about the malicious against the uninformed. “Sign here, it’s just a procedure” and then fry the victim to text messages and advertising emails, when not sharing them with the cousins ​​of a third party and losing control. In the age of the attention economy, minimizing futile notifications empowers the human being.

A bittersweet GDPR

The entry into force of the GDPR almost three years ago has left a bitter aftertaste: it has freed us users from a few dirty tricks by certain companies —it should not be forgotten that some, instead of adapting, directly closed their doors, such as Klout or Favstar, a terrible symptom—, but leaving it in the hands of society civil law the possibility of ticking a box that gives companies plenty of room to use their data with just a few rules of the game does not seem like sufficient restraint.

Perhaps the GDPR could have gone further than leaving data processing in the hands of signing a box that is often presented as mandatory and about which little has been reported

Or is it that someone has been concerned that civil society is sufficiently educated and informed to make a conscious decision? she passed with the preferred ones and today everything is regrets. What makes us think that the ending of this film will be different? Instead of money we will lose intimacy, but that intimacy also has a value, and every day more.

I’m riding dead on the bandwagon of the European Union, its protection in terms of privacy —we are in the best territory in the world in this regard— and its ability to deal with the excesses of the big technology companies; But if the other day a wheel came off, I’m not going to pretend that everything is going well. Something-more-is-needed.

Because laws are not made solely for learned citizens and with training in privacy and data protection, they are made for everyone. And a law that implies leaving it to the will of the citizen whether to sign or not to sign a box, if it is not accompanied by a great general education that makes the implications of that signature understood, is like a cupcake without a glass of milk.

This scenario is having a clear consequence: employees spreading little sheets that not even they fully understand to customers who understand them even less so that everything continues -almost- the same as before. except when someone hack the system for two seconds refusing to sign.

Margrethe Vestager, the Lutheran who has turned technology companies upside down in Europe

When they ask for all your data but you’re not even a customer

It has not been the only occasion in which I have refused to sign one of these boxes, or directly to give my data. The pattern of insistence and misunderstanding is common. At the beginning of 2019 I visited a gym to see its facilities – I just wanted to see them before deciding whether to sign up or not – and at the end of the visit they asked me for my name, surname, date of birth, ID, email, telephone number and address Postcard. I insist: I had only gone to see him. The conversation went like this:

  • But if I’m not going to join, I want to see more gyms before I decide which one to join.
  • Yes, but we have to fill in this little sheet when we show it to someone.
  • But I don’t want to give my data, I’m not even going to sign up for sure.
  • Yes, but we do it that way.
  • Ok, put that my name is Juan Nobody and leave the rest of the data blank.
  • I can’t, I have to put them on.
  • Look, I’m going to leave, I’m not going to leave my data just because I saw the gym and you didn’t even tell me before that it was mandatory.
  • Well okay, well, I put that the client did not want to give the data.
  • Okay, I think it’s good.

I went to request the European health card and paid 59 euros when I landed on a private website for a procedure that the Ministry offers for free

The following week I went back to that gym, I ended up signing up and gave my data, of course. During the year that I was there I frequently received mobile messages and promotional emails. I unsubscribed and propaganda continued to arrive until I expressly asked them to remove my information from their database. Now I know that I probably don’t have to give my phone or my email to a gym: as happened with the hotel, having that data has been to the benefit of the company, but never minewho was also paying them the monthly payment and they never gave me any kind of reward for putting up with their commercial rattle.

We are too used -users and companies- to share data from which companies benefit; but not us, the users

This has happened to me, I am aware that I have a minority attitude with these situations. What awaits the bulk of the population? spam, notifications, distractions that we have not asked for or want, our data in the hands of who knows who. And there are many companies using these practices, with nothing erotic result.

Companies that want to know everything about us —beyond reasonable limits— for spending a night in their hotel, visiting a gym without knowing if we will sign up or not or check if there is fiber coverage in our house; to then draw our attention with their commercial offers in the best of cases, or to end up sharing that information with third parties in the worst.

For this reason, when you find a company in which you register and they tell you “we are not going to ask you to sign anything so that we can process your data, because we are not going to do anything with them” it is as pleasant as a blanket warm on a rainy Friday. And I’m not going to crawl from there.

Something before the pandemic broke out, I was in Madrid for one of the Xataka Live recordings. I no longer…

Something before the pandemic broke out, I was in Madrid for one of the Xataka Live recordings. I no longer…

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