Data is the new Oil -No.

Nehal Tiwari
4 min readApr 6, 2020

Oil belongs to Earth. Earth doesn’t speak a language we humans understand.

Earth can’t say NO.

She can’t sue. She can’t file a litigation.

And we have obviously been taking advantage of this.

But can the same be concluded for Data?

Let’s look at the similarities between data and oil :-

  • It’s going to be owned by a few (already happening)
  • It’s going to make some parties very rich and powerful and render some extremely powerless - without even being aware of it (In progress)
  • It’s going to lead to wars — maybe not on land, not in the sea but in some other new plane we aren’t familiar with yet, may be the mind
  • And all the nice things that will lead to the new revolution that will change mankind forever

But unlike earth, we humans can say ‘No’.

In human beings, privacy is a birth right, it is a matter of human rights, isn’t it? An individual must have the right to say ‘No’ to sharing their data. But before this, we need to first be conscious of the fact that data sharing is something, that it has an impact on our life. Unfortunately all our crucial support systems today either offer privacy or the service itself. And we have come to a point where we know that in-order to use any service we will have to consent. Either we have given up or we choose to be ignorant.

We blindly say yes to sharing our photo and video library, camera, contacts and what not — because that’s the only way to get the service. The permissions are a facade, a compliance activity. Just to give us a feeling that we own the process. We don’t.

Read this : https://uxdesign.cc/dark-patterns-in-ux-design-7009a83b233c

We share our phone numbers at malls after shopping, we say yes to every TnC without reading because we don’t really understand these, they are so long and complicated it is tiring to read through it. And it’s one tiny link. No one cares, not even us. One must calculate how many times an average person is forced to consent in their routine life, including all the browsing, calling, app usage. I am confident that the numbers will send shocks through our spine. But no one really wants to face this.

It is hard to digest that in retrospect, all this feels like invasion, but it never feels that way when we are in the process of consenting, in realtime. Retrospection is difficult because it leads to truth, and some kinds of truth lead to cognitive dissonance.

What I essentially intend to say is that, as a whole, we haven’t figured things out yet, especially with regard to data privacy.

Most countries don’t have proper data privacy laws in place yet, in fact many governments are buying this data from other companies — data brokers.

Read This — https://money.cnn.com/2013/10/30/pf/government-data-broker/index.html

and this — https://www.fastcompany.com/90310803/here-are-the-data-brokers-quietly-buying-and-selling-your-personal-information

Watch this eye opening video on data selling — https://www.ted.com/talks/madhumita_murgia_how_data_brokers_sell_your_identity?language=en

When things are in this state of transition how can we already start getting excited about statements like ‘Data is the new Oil’? We are taking the risk of packaging it? Making it sound like the raw material for building the next phase of our economies?

It is important to consider that not every country has the same economic growth rate. Is data the new OIL for USA? for Britain? For Australia? Or for Russia, India, China or Nepal, Panama?

Considering that most countries have internet access today, a lot of data would be available in the densely populated countries— a lot of third world. But their data probably is now being owned by a company that is not even in their own country. Why — because they probably bought it.

Here is a list of countries with maximum number of internet users https://www.internetworldstats.com/top20.htm

And countries that have the best data privacy laws:https://www.cloudwards.net/the-best-cloud-privacy-laws/

Who owns this data? Who makes the laws? Who uses it?

There are so many other things that can be the potential raw material for the next revolution — Solar power could be one of the many many things, that could be the next big thing too.

We have the capability of shaping our future by consciously defining or giving value to something. So how about defining multiple pillars for the technological revolution we are in?

Some interesting links:

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