Everyone should be aware of how our digital lives show snippets of our real ones, and how the things we do and share online can affect real life. This January 28, the International Data Privacy Day, reminds us of the importance of protecting what we share online as a crucial part of maintaining personal privacy.
We share so many bits and pieces of our personal information online that we sometimes fail to realize that we're already revealing more than what we are comfortable with. How many times have you had to give or input your whole name, middle name even, along with your home address and telephone numbers, schools, and information on past employment just so you can download a document which may or may not have the data you need? Chances are, it's too many. How many times did you rush to automatically click on the “Agree” or “I Accept” button on an End-User License Agreement (EULA) that you didn't really read or understand? Just count how many apps there are on your mobile devices. How many times did someone you know comment on something you did online in a way you didn't expect and, by then, cannot take back?
Why Consumers Should Actively Safeguard Personal Data
There are risks to being complacent about data privacy, especially for kids who are too engrossed in the technology that they are willing to share anything about their lives to get instant digital gratification via social media or online games. It is the role of parents, guardians, educators, and policy influencers to be aware of what can happen when privacy is violated online.
Cybercriminals violate consumer privacy because they can profit from it. Today, a global black market for stolen data exists across various countries. Here's a short list of the types of your information that cybercriminals can sell online:
Here are some general tips on how you can maintain your privacy online:
Know your options. Before buying an Internet-connected device, downloading an app, or signing up for an online account, look at the information being asked for and determine if you are comfortable with handing them this information.
Tweak your account settings. Look at your social media, online shopping, banking, online gaming, or other accounts that you regularly use and check their privacy settings and data policies. Leaving these settings at default might be too "open" for your liking.
Do some spring cleaning. Go back on your old online accounts, and if you don't need them or haven't used them in a while, delete them or minimize the information that can be found there.
Find out more about data privacy this week as we release a series of articles that focus on protecting the online privacy of kids and families, social networking accounts, online games, and online shopping activities: