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Learn English Through the News – Why the internet is not as ‘free’ as you think

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Learn English Through the News – Why the internet is not as ‘free’ as you think

Original Article: Why the internet is not as ‘free’ as you think

It’s the basic business model of the internet – you hand over (chuyển) your personal data in exchange for digital services. But is it a good deal?

It was on a visit to San Francisco in 1889 that the British writer Rudyard Kipling first discovered the concept of the “free lunch”. Lost and in need of  (cần) a drink, Kipling wandered (dạo bước) around the city until he discovered a saloon (quầy bar), where “men with hats on the backs of their heads were wolfing (ăn vội vàng) food from a counter(quầy tạp hóa)”. The food at the bar, as it turned out,(hóa ra) was free: all that they had to pay for were the drinks which, given the widespread (phổ biến) practice of salting the meals, they were happy to buy in large volumes.

If anything, our reliance (phụ thuộc) on free goods and services has only increased. On a daily basis, millions of people across the world log on to free social networks, play and upload videos on free-to-use streaming sites and download the latest free mobile apps. Yet, as Kipling discovered, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Most of these apps offer their services in exchange for personal data, which to developers and third-party advertisers (quảng cáo) is worth its weight in gold.

If personal data is so valuable, why do consumers keep giving it away for free? While only 36% of consumers in a recent YouGov survey said that they would share their personal data with an organisation they didn’t know, we are nonetheless accustomed to sharing aspects of our private lives for little or no discernible (rõ ràng) gain almost every day.

Even so, the volume and variety of data collected on individual users by apps can sometimes seem too much, gathering information such as your locations when using the app, interests, education, marital status and so on.

Therein lies a potential problem behind signing up to apps and online services. Under UK law, companies must either ask consent (chấp nhận)  for your data to be shared; or where consent is not requested, companies must be clear about who it is being shared with and why. However, permission can be given to apps to access a wide variety of information stored on our devices, from location data, to photo galleries and dates on your digital calendar. Even if you trust companies to use this data responsibly, none are invulnerable (bất khả xâm phạm) to data breaches.

On the whole, publicity surrounding data breaches is encouraging people to be more cautious about who they allow access to their personal details. And awareness and use of online ad-blocking software and encrypted (được mã hóa) messaging apps has increased over the past few years.

Increased safeguards (biện pháp bảo vệ) and practices are also being introduced on personal data through legislation. Approved by the European Union in 2016 and enforced from 25 May 2018 onwards, (trở đi) the General Data Protection Regulation clarifies the definition of what constitutes personal data. Companies will now need to provide more information to individuals on what they’re going to do with their data, eg the legal grounds for its use. Failure to comply with this law could result in fines of up to €20m (£17m) or 4% of annual global turnover (doanh số).

All of these rules are designed to increase consumer protections, including awareness as to how much information about us is being processed and potentially shared by those who we give our information to, and stop companies collecting unnecessary or irrelevant (không liên quan) data. What they’re not designed to do is to constrict (hạn chế) user behaviour as to what data they choose to hand over. That will remain up to you.

Vocabulary Hightlights

Hand over: to give something to someone else

We were ordered to hand over our passports.

In need of: needing

He came in tired and hungry and badly in need of a bath.

Wander (v) to walk around slowly in a relaxed way

We spent the morning wandering around the old part of the city.

Saloon (n) a public bar

Everywhere is wet, saloon gets it badly down companion way

Wolf (v) to eat a large amount of food very quickly

The boys wolfed the sandwiches (down) and then started on the cake

Counter (n) a long, flat, narrow surface or table in a shop, bank, restaurant

We stacked the dirty plates on the kitchen counter.

Turn out: to happen a particular

As events turned out, we were right to have decided to leave early

Widespread (adj) existing or happening in many places

The campaign has received widespread support.

Reliance (n) the state of depending on or trusting in something or someone

You place too much reliance on her ideas and expertise.

Advertisers (n) a company, person, or organization that advertises a product or service

Every time a user clicks on the advertiser‘s link, the search engine earns a fee.

Discernible (adj) able to be seen or understood

The influence of Rodin is discernible in the younger artist.

Consent (n) permission or agreement

They can’t publish your name without your consent.

Invulnerable (adj) impossible to damage or hurt in any way

The command bunker is virtually invulnerable, even to a nuclear attack.

Safeguards (v) to protect something from harm

The union safeguards the interests of all its members.

Legislation (n) a law or set of laws suggested by a government

The effects of this legislation will extend further than the government intends.

Onward (adv) beginning at a particular time and continuing after it

I’m usually at home from five o’clock onwards.

Turnover (n) the amount of business that a company does in a period of time

Large supermarkets have high turnovers

Irrelevant (adj) not related to what is being discussed or considered and therefore not important

These documents are largely irrelevant to the present investigation.

Constrict (v) to become tighter and narrower

He hated wearing a tie – he felt it constricted his breathing.

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