It’s not about narrowing down on criminals or catching cyberbullies. We are constantly adding bits of information to our growing online portrait. And if that’s not something that should worry you, then you need to bone up on the subject of online privacy. Online privacy matters now more than ever. Corporates use our online data and sell to the highest bidder in specific markets. Sounds crazy? Scroll on as we strip down everything you need to know about privacy and why it matters even if you think you have nothing to hide.
But why online privacy, anyway?
Online privacy should be as crucial to you as in the real world. I’m sure you wouldn’t be comfortable singing your favorite shower song at a family gathering. Or even share your financial details with a total stranger. It will help if you remember nothing is given for free in the online realm, from downloading free apps to using a company’s free service like Facebook social networking.
The first mistake of thinking that you have nothing to hide is giving out your personal information. You don’t have the slightest clue whom your personal will be shared with as information in one the company can be shared with the other. But even worse is when companies sell your information without your consent. Ideally, this is identity theft.
If you’re not responsible for some sensitive data, you might think you have nothing to hide or “less” of a target. Well, the value of your online portfolio increases with every search term, status, or photos uploaded from your personal computer or mobile phone. Your online trails are left in browser cookies, Google Tags, Facebook Pixel, and other web tags. Together with AI, your data is analyzed and used to understand your surfing patterns. With this kind of insight, marketing companies fight to get a piece of your habits to personalize ads and create customized content.
But the paradox here is, “who doesn’t love personalized stuff?” Though internet snooping is not entirely legal, we still don’t want irrelevant ads and searching for one thing, and Google gives you a different answer. Striking a balance between personalization and data privacy has been a topic of discussion for quite some time.
So, is there a way out?
There are simple adjustments you can make to ensure that your data is not used inappropriately. First, adjust your privacy settings on Google, Twitter, Facebook, and any other network. You can also delete cookies on browsers or use a browser that doesn’t keep a record on your browsing history. Thirdly, watch out for the “Accept Cookies” disclaimer. Recently, data and privacy laws required all websites to ask for permission from users before storing cookie information. So, to be on the safe side, check what these cookie policies entail before accepting.
Lastly, double down on sharing your personal information on the internet. Start locking down your cyber life and don’t seek validation from people who are just pressing a button with no emotional effort. This is probably the best way to ensure that data-hungry corporations and hackers don’t get enough information from you. Consider this as cyber-cleansing. Just as the current times call for regular hand-washing, it is also time to learn and wash your data as often as possible.
Your privacy is as important on the internet as it is offline. Though we have cyber laws and data restrictions to protect your data, self-awareness is the ultimate solution. You are in control of your data, and no one can access it if you choose.