With the internet being so accessible, there are many potential threats to your data privacy. You may have an idea of what your information is being used for, but do you know how it’s collected? There are many ways that online companies collect data about you, and every time you log into a website or app, you agree to share some of this information with them.
You may think that data-tracking is just a small annoyance that causes targeted ads on your social media feed, but it’s much more than that. It’s essential to be aware of these threats and take steps to protect yourself. In this article, we will discuss the importance of data privacy and what you can do to protect your data.
Why is data privacy important?
That attitude of “I have nothing to hide, why should I care about my data?” is a huge mistake that can cost you a lot of strife later. Data privacy is more than having something to hide. Here are some reasons why data privacy is important:
1. Privacy is a human right.
In our personal lives, we expect privacy. Likely, you don’t want people to know your salary or personal finance information without your consent. Also, you probably don’t want your medical and health information to be easily accessible for anyone to view. What about the websites you visit, items you purchase, places you go?
Unfortunately, the digital age has changed our perceptions of privacy. Ideologically, our online data should be kept private unless you knowingly consent to your information being collected.
2. The internet is full of hackers who want to steal your information.
Even if you’re okay with companies having access to your data, not protecting your data opens you up to the threat of hackers. By using your data, hackers can potentially get credit card or bank account details. They can use or sell such information to the highest bidder. They may also attempt to get enough personal information to establish a new credit account or borrow money in your name, leaving you liable for the debt and ruining your credit score for years.
Regrettably, many people assist hackers by making their data easy to access online. Hackers can easily infect computers with viruses to steal data or use phishing to trick you into giving over your data voluntarily. Also, big companies often have data breaches, leaking customer’s private information. Data breaches impacted 155.8 million people in just 2020 alone. Just like improving your home security deters burglars, taking steps to protect your data makes hackers seek simpler targets and reduces the risk that your data will be exposed during a data breach.
3. Your location can be tracked and used for targeted marketing.
Geotargeted mobile marketing is a controversial and fast-growing type of advertising. Digital marketers have grabbed the chance to collect and sell data about where we are, what we do — and what we may want to purchase. By 2022, BIA Advisory Services expects marketers to spend $38.7 billion on geo-targeted mobile advertising, up from $17.1 billion in 2017.
Consider this: Even if you don’t disclose your location, job, or what you purchased online this year, your habits may reveal a lot. Each marker on your day’s map helps establish an “audience segment” that may offer you advertisements or even insurance rates based on your location.
Not to mention the very fact that businesses gather, store, and sell personal location data poses dangers. Hackers or anyone with raw location data could identify or track a person’s location by determining which phone spent the most time at their home address.
4. Companies use algorithms to filter what you see on their platforms.
You are probably already familiar with social media algorithms. Facebook or Twitter may prioritize postings from your closest friends and relatives. Also, you’ve probably been given recommended videos to watch on YouTube.
This information is based on data gathered about your previous habits. It may seem innocent and non-bothersome, but the controversial issue is what you may not see due to the algorithm. The algorithm tailors content specifically for you and hides content that you may not be interested in. In return for filtering, you give big corporations a lot of personal information about how they can influence you and your buying choices.
What Laws are in Place to Protect My Data?
To put in simply, there are no solid laws in place that protect your data privacy. The US doesn’t have a single federal legislation that addresses all data privacy. As a result, the overwhelming majority of products that gather data are unregulated. Many companies can do anything they want with data since there are no federal privacy laws, unless a state has its own legislation for data privacy.
Don’t wait to control your data. Help us build the movement to put data control in the hands of individual consumers. We deserve to control our own data, afterall. Join the Ctrl.ly movement and help us get the momentum we need to build the Ctrl.ly app which will use an ethical monetization model so you can use it as a free service to control your data as well as who can advertise to you and track you.