We’re willing to wager you didn’t know there’s an International Data Privacy Day. Woooo 🎉 You don’t have to celebrate it, but you should keep up to date with data privacy and what you can do to protect yourself.
You have a vast digital footprint. Everything you do online is collected and stored – your insta posts, google search habits, what you’re watching on Netflix, and yes, your Bumble behaviour. Thanks to years of browsing and engaging with the internet, tech companies know our political and religious views, physical and mental health, socioeconomic status, spending habits, relationship status, sexual preferences, and even family planning information.
Techniques used to collect our information include those sneaky cookies 🍪 that follow us around the web and log our activity. Browser fingerprinting and cross-site tracking help to identify who we are.
We are the product
You might know the saying, ‘nothing in this world is free’. Companies profit from collecting our information – it’s now normalised that businesses store and exploit our data for money. No, your phone isn’t listening to you, but don’t be too relieved. Your data, as well as data from your friends and family, is collated to bundle us into user segments to sell for marketing purposes – yes, even to target you, you ‘CrossFit enthusiast’, ‘career riser’, ‘yoga fanatic’ or ‘urban mum’.
They can do wrong
Identity theft can have lasting impacts for years when our data falls into the wrong hands from a hack. Increasingly, countries are cracking down, and a lot of the information we share online is secured and protected by laws, from our financial and medical records to employment history and other sensitive information. But it’s no surprise that some companies skirt the law or even break it for their benefit.
- Chinese-owned TikTok has been guilty of aggressive data harvesting and misuse. There remain concerns about its data policies and influence on young people recommending suicidal and eating disorder content.
- Health app Flo invites users to enter private details about their bodies that they might not share even with their closest friends. Last year, they discovered Flo had passed on information about their period timing to their intentions to get pregnant with Facebook and Google.
- The European Union privacy regulator has recently fined Meta-owned WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram billions for the inappropriate sharing of our data between platforms for advertising purposes.
There’s no better time to audit your online behaviours:
Do you share passwords across sites? Mmm hmm, we’re all guilty. Do us a favour and watch comedian Micheal McIntryre’s take on our genius password strategies. As for storing them, a good password manager should generate and keep them for you and monitor password breaches. Also, say yes to 2FA.
Be a sceptic
You know those long boring clauses we rush to accept? We tap ok to clear the pop-up and get where we’re going and rarely opt to learn more. Research shows that most internet users don’t read terms of service, privacy, or cookie policies.
Recognise that your data is gold – thanks to Clario for the comprehensive overview on who tracks us the most (hint the top data-collecting culprits are Snapchat and Apple). In addition to having access to your photos, location, and contacts, your apps probably share data with each other. Take advantage of privacy settings across apps and games and here’s how to turn off app tracking on your iPhone.
Think twice before sharing
Sharing is caring, so it’s easy to forget that what we post online stays online forever. Think twice before sharing something, and never post personally identifying or financial info across social media, including messaging apps and forums!
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