Data privacy is one of the most overlooked aspects for both individuals and businesses today. With most of the internet’s infrastructure (search, email, etc.) provided by tech giants, most people assume they don’t have to worry about their privacy and their data isn’t being utilized for other services.
How Much of Your Data Can Tech Companies See?
The apps you use on a daily basis have an incredible amount of data and analytics on your behavior, patterns and many other personal characteristics. Users might overlook this, but personal data gets problematic when it’s sold to advertisers. For example, a 30-35 year old woman who’s data is sold to advertisers might see tailored ads about child-related products. This kind of invasion of privacy is why it’s important to acknowledge how much data apps gather on users. Some of the data includes:
Behavioral data: Behavioral data is a unique type of data that varies from company to company. It’s largely a psychological analysis of user behavior when presented with a stimulus within an app. Behavioral data consists of clicks, scrolls and any other behavior that can help companies improve their in-app experience. Key indicators of user behavior include product usage and transactional data.
Geospatial data: This kind of data refers to any data with a geographic component. This can be gathered by any app that has permission to your location. For example, an Instagram user can use a filter that shows their location. This type of data can be used by advertisers to market location-based services like gas stations and stores to users.
Biometric data: Biometric data is one of the most personal types of data that a company can gather on an individual. This kind of data is specific to a person’s physical health and can include body measurements, weight and many other private information. Apps that attain this kind of information are generally in the health/fitness niche; some apps include FitBit, Apple Health and MyFitnessPal
How to take data privacy in your own hands:
VPN: Using a VPN for your internet activities is one of the best ways to improve your data privacy. With a VPN, all of your web history, activities and other data is anonymous; this anonymity means your IP address is safe, your data will be encrypted and your location is kept private while browsing the internet.
Be Aware of Privacy Settings: Acknowledging your current privacy settings is one of the first steps in making your data more private. Many smartphone users have their location settings on for all apps indefinitely; this means apps you might use for a specific service like Uber can track your location all the time without your permission. Additional privacy settings that smartphone users should be wary of include microphone settings, phone call settings
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