An increasing number of people are concerned with a potential loss of data privacy. Breaches are common in the news, and certain technology companies such as Facebook are suspected of improperly using and sharing data with their partners. Keeping personal data safe requires careful reading of all terms of service (ToS) and vigilance about the companies handling your data. Faruqi & Faruqi, headquartered in New York City, New York, examines the landscape of personal data privacy, enumerating recent problems and providing solutions for the future.
Volume of Data
Most consumers would be surprised to learn the breadth and depth of information collected by technology companies like Facebook and Google. These companies maintain your advertiser profile which categorizes you by age, location, and interests at a minimum. The companies use various data sources to compile a complete picture of how you behave online. There may also be several important clues to your movements and activities offline, based on calendar events, family connections, and retail shopping data.
Many websites also contract with companies like Facebook and Google to capitalize on their information. These companies may have been given improper access to data in the past. For example, Spotify was given broad access to consumer data from Facebook, though the company claimed that the capability was never used.
Many people find it unsettling when websites target ads with laser precision. For example, if a person clicked on a link on the web, they may notice Facebook ads for the same product the same day. Technology companies claim that they are doing this to provide convenient service to the person targeted, but many people do not choose to see it that way.
People Finder Websites
Recently, web sites which collect personally identifiable data such as a person’s name, phone numbers, address, and family connections with others have been in the news. These websites aggregate data which was difficult to search for in the past. Many people are disturbed by this seeming invasion of privacy.
Medical data is a highly sensitive category of information. If medical data is breached, consumers may find themselves the victims of targeted scams and extortion schemes. Medical records must be kept secure in any way possible in accordance with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations.
Steps Toward Data Privacy
Many people are understandably upset when they discover the depth of data held by technology companies, and they may feel that there is nothing they can do to regain their privacy. There are concrete steps you can take to reduce the amount of data that websites collect about you and go forward with a cleaner record, according to Faruqi & Faruqi.
If you want to continue using websites that aggregate data about you, go through each website’s process for removing your information first. Then set up your browser for maximum privacy using your specific browser’s requirements.
It is best to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) if you want to browse anonymously. Even the most optimized browser settings for privacy can be tracked using various methods.
Data security is an increasingly important aspect of life online. These tips will help you increase your online privacy and reduce your exposure to scams and predatory advertising. When you take care with your personal data, you can be assured that your interests are protected.
Government regulations like the HIPAA law protect medical data in the United States, but there is no corresponding rule to protect personal data. European countries are beginning to put these requirements into effect though developments like GDPR. Be aware of who is using your data and why. With care and forethought, you will be able to reduce your exposure online. Law firms like Faruqi & Faruqi can help consumers and companies alike assure the privacy of their data.