Protecting Privacy

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Beware! Big Brother isn’t the only one watching your every keystroke or click. Brands are also closely monitoring your online activity, gathering more than enough information to target you in their next campaigns.

What type of information is being collected? What are companies doing with the information? Are they trustworthy? How is that information being protected?

The Pew Research Center released a new study Tuesday that found there is widespread concern about government and business surveillance:

91% of adults in the survey ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.”

Ever Google your name? You probably wouldn’t consider yourself a celebrity, but you’ll still pop up in the results. One of the first links, Spokeo, will more than likely show your name, age, and where you live. That’s pretty scary!

CNN spoke to Don Jackson, a security researcher, in August 2012. He warned “data mining” can lead to hacking, identity theft, and stalking:

We have seen cases where just basic information, just very few pieces from social networks, can lead predators to potential victims, for example. That’s a common scenario, actually.”

Companies need to be transparent in their quest for information about consumers.

Facebook updated its privacy policy on Wednesday. The social Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 10.31.14 AMmedia website also released an easy-to-read, interactive guide for users to learn what information is being gathered and how it is used and shared. It’s still pretty complicated to understand.

SnapChat, a popular photo-sharing app, is also taking steps to make users feel safe. CNN Money reports the company will:

Warn you if another app on your phone is saving your pictures. Snapchatters using third-party apps will be forced to change their password. If they refuse, their accounts will be locked.”

AT&T stopped using hidden “super cookies” on smart phones on Friday. USA Today reports the change came after consumer pressure.

Online tracking isn’t going to go away anytime soon. In fact, it will only become a bigger issue. There is no way the federal government can regulate because the problem is universal. Privacy really starts with the user, though. Only share information you don’t mind being blasted to the world. What if consumers got paid for their information? Would that make it more acceptable?

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