In the internet age, we all share a lot of data about ourselves with various companies online. Have you ever wondered how much and what kind of information you are sharing? How is your data being treated by these services and companies?
Moreover, a projection depicts that by the end of 2021, internet users will create 74 zettabytes of data.
This article discusses digital privacy in detail while mentioning some best practices to be followed while using certain internet services, which can help maintain digital privacy. Digital privacy can be an option. However, there is no foolproof solution.
What is digital privacy?
When it comes to digital privacy, websites are perhaps one of the most important aspects where companies track your usage. They do so for advertising purposes by storing cookies on your device, which then records what type of activities you engage in frequently.
It also helps companies track your purchasing habits and calculate how much money you spend online, which may even increase the price of products online. It happens because they see that a person is buying many high-priced products at different orders to increase the cost of products you are often purchasing.
This is not limited to websites only but also includes companies collecting data from social media profiles. They track your phones to record GPS location, your home’s ecosystem, and many other devices that you use.
Why do you have the right to privacy online?
Entities emphasizing the necessity of monitoring online usually have one strong argument. Anonymity and privacy can become a hotbed for hackers and other cybercriminals. This needs to be taken into consideration. However, you deserve privacy online even if you have nothing to hide. Why should your online activities help companies earn money?
Of course, users typically agree to have their data monetized. Also, you might notice that many apps have options for enabling targeted ads. Thus, it means that your activities across the digital world will influence the ads you see.
Digital privacy advocates also emphasize that companies must treat their customer data with the utmost respect. For instance, all data-collection activities need to be justified. Also, data retention is an important factor as well. Companies should not keep users’ data permanently. There should be clear-cut arguments for storing data.
Legal provisions do help consumers get more control. For example, GDPR gives users the power to request companies to delete their data. However, this option has not always been available. Thus, we continue to shape the standards and rules of the digital space.
How are companies using this collected data?
Companies are using this collected data by selling it for targeted advertising purposes. It may seem beneficial in the beginning because if they provide relevant advertisements. Users may be tempted to click on them more often rather than irrelevant ads.
But this benefit comes at a cost. Have you ever received marketing emails from companies you had never given your email address? Well, it is thanks to partnerships of companies exchanging data and data brokers.
Also, with companies retaining more data about you, it becomes difficult to mitigate data breaches. The latter, sadly, happens more frequently than anticipated. Thus, hackers are always after consumer and corporate data.
Users might feel confused
Your data is not only used for targeted advertising purposes but also for other purposes like political elections. The majority of Americans feel that their personal information is being sold without their knowledge. However, consumers might be confused about the ways they can become more private online. Sadly, many choose to settle with the default settings or agreements. You should know that you have the option of becoming freer online.
For one, you can no longer use social media, which is a goldmine for user data. Furthermore, you can change the search engines and browsers you use. There are many products that can serve you better when it comes to privacy and security. For instance, Mozilla Firefox blocks unsavory things like browser fingerprinting and third-party cookies.
What can you do to protect yourself?
You can take charge when it comes to your digital identity. You can limit who gets to know you better online. And, in many cases, advertisers might know you better than your family members or significant others.
Become more private online by deleting cookies, blocking tracking systems, and avoiding sharing information on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, etc. These platforms provide free services but at the cost of giving away your data without your knowledge to those who might not use it in the best possible way.
Also, it is becoming increasingly popular to use a VPN that encrypts information about your internet activities. It means that online entities get fewer chances to monitor your actions. Furthermore, a VPN hides your IP address, meaning that entities can no longer identify your location.
Lastly, there have been several cases whereby hackers have broken into user accounts by knowing their passwords. It is possible that your password will leak due to a data breach in a specific company. However, you must know that a weak password is just as detrimental as having your password leak online. Weak combinations can be cracked rather easily. In other cases, brute force attacks can take numerous guesses to hack your account.
It is true that without the internet, many of us would still be struggling to stay updated with the latest information and innovations. Companies are making good money but at the expense of our privacy. It has become challenging for people to trust any company or website that asks for their data. After all, can you be sure that this company will treat your data fairly? In the end, you might simply start receiving emails from companies you have never heard of. Thus, it becomes especially important to only trust reputable companies and avoid the most data-hungry entities.