Status: 05/30/2022 06:00 AM
The General Data Protection Regulation provides the right to obtain data information. What data do companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon provide from their customers? subjective experience.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been in effect for us for four years. Consumers have the right to know which personal data companies store and process. According to information on Facebook, Google and Amazon, journalist WDR Jörg Sauerwein is surprised.
Data Information on Facebook and Co: A Subjective Experiment
Maybe I will have a baby soon. But unlike Facebook, I don’t know anything about it yet. According to my data, I am currently interested in more than 1200 companies and Facebook pages. These include “Mother’s Basics”, “Everyday Life with a Baby” or “Everyday Life with a Labrador”. Facebook doesn’t seem to know that from a medical point of view I will definitely never be a father again. I don’t have a Labrador either (but I do have two dogs).
For some time now, I’ve been looking for WDR midwives to report their working conditions – which is probably why I was on the wrong track. When it comes to other things, Facebook and Co are eerily close to my heels when it comes to data interpretation.
Companies store huge amounts of data
I get over 40 folders of Facebook with a variety of data collected about me. There’s more on Amazon: over 200 volumes hold an unmanageable wealth of data from various purchases to my family’s Kindle libraries to the audiobooks I listened to on Audible. For example, it lists the exact day I heard the relevant chapters of “Kangaroo Chronicles”. This is a little scary.
Nils Schroeder, Section Head at the State Data Protection Commissioner
Photo: LDI NRW
But what exactly companies do with all this data, or why, for example, it should be stored at all when I listen to a chapter from an audiobook, was not immediately clear to me after my data was revealed. But that’s actually how it should be, assures Nils Schroeder, head of the department at the State Data Protection Commissioner for North Rhine-Westphalia. Companies are required to specify the purposes of data processing when providing information, for example who receives the data or what it is collected for: “Otherwise you may contact the company, data protection officer or data protection supervisory authority again and file a complaint.”
Disclosure of data takes time
Many companies have now prepared themselves well for information. On the relevant Internet pages there is usually the possibility of requesting data information in the field of personal customer data. I would usually wait a few days to several weeks.
The email provider GMX.de was faster. After a few hours I receive information about the stored data and objects. However, the list is surprisingly short. “Unfortunately, you can never be completely sure that companies really list all the data about you,” says data protection expert Schroeder. If in doubt, ask again or complain.
Right to erase data
Google also gives me 30+ folders after a few days. For example, the searches I’ve done on Google over the past few years are saved in the same way that everything my kids and I watched on YouTube are saved. However, Google also informed me that all this data is saved because I specified it in my settings – this can certainly be changed.
You can also ask the company to delete stored data. However, as long as I am still a customer, the company can continue to store a certain piece of data. “Because of a legal obligation” or “legitimate interest,” as it was called then. So it is not easy for me to escape from the data collectors.
What is the corporate image of me?
I often only indirectly find the conclusions companies draw from me from my data. Nobody sends me a profile with interests or personality traits. Such personal files are likely to be covered by trade secrets. The Federal Data Protection Commissioner also notes that the right to information is “not granted indefinitely”.
In the case of companies that, according to Facebook or Amazon, I am a good fit for advertising, there are many things that troublingly fit into it. At some point I was very surprised. But Amazon doesn’t just view me as the “head of the household”, it also considers me a homeowner. How does the company know this is out of my control. It was also noticed when the house was built – namely, in the 60s. As a precaution, Amazon has already put it on the ad list of a front door manufacturer.
I’ve never looked for a new front door. But in fact I was thinking about the idea of inquiring about the manufacturers soon. And it’s more than scary that Amazon actually doubts it. Even if not all conclusions from my data are correct: I will send a request to some company to delete my data. I don’t want to be too transparent after all.