Home Tech Who is watching us? These data traders know you better than anyone

Who is watching us? These data traders know you better than anyone

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Privacy is a basic human right, but your actions are closely monitored online and offline. Companies do it to serve you personalized ads, the government does it to detect crime.

Aren’t you losing sleep over your intimacy because you have nothing to hide? Then remember that governments are not static, the freedoms gained can be curtailed, and your data is only as safe as its security. “Not caring about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like not caring about free speech because you have nothing to say,” the former agent said. of the CIA and whistleblower Edward Snowden.

the Internet

Your personal data is collected, analyzed and exchanged on the Internet. With the promise of a personalized browsing experience, data merchants resell your data to advertisers. Experts predict the market will be worth $462.4 billion by 2031.


For most people, Google is the gateway to the internet. Ask Google the questions you’re afraid to ask your friends. For example, the company knows your browsing behavior via Google search, your location and movements via Google Maps and your contacts and calendar via Gmail. Google knows you better than anyone in the world.

social media

Social media companies not only know your date of birth and your gender, but they also know who you are in contact with, what you like, what you think and feel. This data is sold to advertisers.

Chat apps

Meta (the parent company of WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram) collects data about its users across all of its platforms. The content of your messages is encrypted, but the metadata – like when you use the app, who you communicate with and how often – is not.

Telecommunications providers and communication services

Belgian data retention law obliges telecommunications providers and communication services to retain identification data, communication data metadata and traffic and location data of their users for one year for the police and Justice. In 2020, there were nearly 49,000 requests for communication data in Belgium.

Smart devices

Internet-connected devices can be hacked. Malicious people can get the plan of your house via your robot vacuum cleaner or look into your house via the camera of your baby monitor. Your smart lights and locks can be turned on and off remotely.


If tax inspectors suspect that you are evading taxes or living more wealthy than your official income suggests, they can ignore bank secrecy and check your account balances. In 2021, the Special Tax Inspectorate conducted 1,071 bank investigations.

Loyalty cards

By taking a loyalty card in a store, you give information about who you are and what you buy. A wealth of information for advertisers to present you with personalized offers.


No one knows exactly how many cameras monitor Belgium’s public space, but Federal Judicial Police detective Danny Kampers has hinted The newspaper record that he estimates there are around 500,000. According to the FPS Interior, governments report a total of 4,500 surveillance cameras. This is separate from the cameras used by the police, but the federal police say they have no overview of this. Ministers Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) and Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) want to connect five thousand cameras with license plate recognition (ANPR) to the federal system by the end of 2023. In addition, the police also have drones and body cameras.

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