Until recently, personal privacy was a sacred right that was enjoyed by everyone whether online or offline. Unfortunately, with internet penetration, web 2.0 and smart technologies, all privacy seems to have gone with the wind. There are several ways you could be giving vital personal information to companies that offer varying services without realising it. Here are some of these ways.
Google has several apps, ranging from Gmail to Google Calendar that help you to organise your life and communicate with others with ease. However, when you input personal information in these tools, such as when seeing the doctor and taking your loved one for a treat you give up your privacy to Google.
Google knows too much about you when it combines this information with browsing data. They can tell so much about your private life, which includes your likes and preferences. Some of this information even ends up in the hands of third parties who try to market different items to you. Google can mess around with this information since you did not give it away knowingly in the first place. It is unlike in surveys where you volunteer personal details.
It is hard to find anyone who has access to the internet who does not have a social media account such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace. When in those sites, most people post a lot of personal things happily and provide the tiniest of details. Security experts are already warning people about the personal information they are sharing and its effect on their privacy.
Unfortunately, in this age of information, most people have the urge to document every little thing that happens in their lives for others to see it. This information is never forgotten or destroyed. It can come back to haunt you later or may be used by people with malicious intent to track your movements and harm you.
GPS is one of the many navigation technologies found in smartphones and cars. In fact, GPS is almost in any type of handheld device or vehicle. There are many other navigational tools, including Google maps and Apple Maps. While these tools are vital in helping you move around, they take lots of information about your whereabouts when using them. Their providers know where you have been and can determine places that you visit regularly.
Health and Weight Management Apps
Smart and wearable technology has made it easy for everyone to set and track their fitness goals. They help you track everything from your heart rate to the amount of water you have taken by the end of the day. They collect vital health and lifestyle data and track your daily activities. App providers have a wealth of information about your health that can be used to market certain health and fitness products from clothing to food.
Loyalty and RFID Cards
Technology has made it easy to make payments on the go through the use of RFID cards without having to swipe credit cards. There are also many loyalty cards given by virtually all companies, retail shops or airlines that give you points for becoming a repeat customer.
Unfortunately, the cards collect a lot of information about your spending habits, places you visit, your preferences and itinerary. They can use the information to determine your next purchase or liaise with marketing companies to send you custom ads.
Unfortunately, most people just click the agree button without reading the terms and conditions. Cookies collect more than what you are doing when on a specific website. They track your browsing habits, know what you are looking for online, and can access some private information stored in the browser.
You can prevent cookies from following you by using a VPN’s protection when browsing the internet. A VPN hides some of your identifiable information such as the physical location and your computer IP address when online. Consider going for a paid service as it provides more elaborate protection than a free service.
SMART Technology at Home
Appliances and fixtures at home are getting smarter by the day. It is now possible to control everything from lighting to aircon to opening doors remotely using your phone. Also, different appliances can communicate with each other and notify you of problems or advise you to restock supplies. There are also several interconnected assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Siri.
While SMART technology and the Internet of Things offer us convenience, automation, and increased efficiency, they also build a database of lots of personal data about ourselves and our daily behaviours. This information is available to manufacturers and governments who are free to manipulate it to their needs.
Regaining your Privacy
You can still control the amount of personal information that gets leaked out there by taking charge of what you share. First, consider comparing VPN protection at companies like VPN Geeks to cover your movement online. Also, limit the amount of information you share on social media. Then, limit the amount of personal information and communication that you send over Google apps especially sensitive ones. Finally, you can take legal action against any company that has misused your personal information by selling it to third parties or admitted to a data leak.
Written by Kerry Leigh Harrison.