Companies store a ton of data. You know this. Everyone knows this. But we’re not always happy about the kinds of data they store. We rightfully get pretty touchy when we hear our address, credit card number, mental health inquiries, or private conversations are just hanging out on some internet server where they might wind up in the wrong hands — like, say, an employee of the company that collected them.
The latest example: Motherboard is reporting that Snapchat employees have a special tool called SnapLion that can give them access to your location, phone numbers, email addresses, even your saved Snaps — and that some employees have actually abused it to spy on users.
Companies usually collect this data to serve you (although sometimes they serve advertisers, or shadily sell it to third parties), and they’ve been writing down some of it (addresses, credit card numbers) long before the internet existed. You can’t have something shipped to your door without a company knowing where that door is.
But often companies don’t emphasize the repercussions of collecting and storing your data. Or the fact that — because we really don’t know how carefully any given company protects that data and because they can change their policies at any time — anyone a company hires to interact with this data could theoretically breach your privacy.
If it’s been a while since you considered these things, this post is for you. And don’t be surprised if you see this post again in the future, the next time there’s a Today I Learned about how a company’s employees might theoretically be able to do nefarious things with an internal database.
Previous times we’ve used this exact post:
April 24th, 2019, when Bloomberg reported that a team of Amazon Alexa employees could technically find your home address if you use an Alexa-enabled speaker. Amazon uses location to help answer questions like “Alexa, where’s the nearest taco truck?”