Despite the fact we call it ‘private data’, the data that you leave behind when browsing the internet is not really private.
Even outside of the information that you decide to share on platforms like Facebook or X, a huge amount of data is left behind whenever you scroll the web. This can include anything from your name, your gender, your age, your address, and even your bank account details.
The reason this is troublesome is because, once that digital footprint is made, your data isn’t private anymore. At least, it isn’t private in the eyes of data brokers.
For those unaware, data brokers are companies that collect your personal information and then sell it onto the highest bidder. No matter what website or link you click on, you are leaving a digital footprint that can be gleaned by data brokers – information that can end up in the hands of scammers, businesses, government, or total strangers who want to know more about you.
As the data brokering industry gets bigger, your personal data is becoming less and less personal, to the point where it doesn’t belong to you at all. But there are ways to counteract the problem. To help you regain and keep ownership of your private data in 2024, here are 5 tips that can provide a safer, more personal internet experience.
Delete the Information Available
Firstly, it’s possible to remove personal data from Google’s databases. After updating their privacy settings in late 2023, Google has made it easier for you to not only delete the information that it has on you, but keep track of the information you make from now on. As well as this, you can also choose to opt out of data brokers. This is the best and most definitive way to take control of your data, as no data broker has the right to collect information once you opt out of their process.
Stay Conscious of Your Privacy Settings
Apart from this, it is important to remain conscious of your own privacy settings in the future. With constant app and software updates, privacy settings on our phones or online are often changed without us knowing. This is especially true whenever new privacy and data regulations are brought into effect. To keep ownership of your data, make sure you check your privacy settings on a regular basis to ensure you’re not passively sharing data.
Close Accounts No Longer in Use
A lot of the data that brokers and even hackers collect from us comes from accounts that we don’t even use anymore. It’s important, in this case, that you go through your phone and social media accounts to delete platform accounts or apps that you are not using anymore.
Pay Attention to Permissions
A lot of the time when you download a new app, or you update an app, the company will request access to your photographs, locations, or other information. This is data that you might not have to hand over, however. Make sure you pay attention to the permissions an app or website asks for. Be wary of what companies want to take from you and know that there is always an alternative.
Use VPNs on Public-Wifi
Lastly, a good way to keep control of your data is by downloading updated VPNs to use on public wi-fi. A lot of the time, public wi-fi can pose a big risk of third-parties monitoring your internet activity. When using a VPN, however, you are establishing a private digital connection that masks your IP address and encrypts your personal data. That isn’t to say that VPNs are the answer to online privacy, of course. As mentioned before, it’s best to delete your information entirely first, making sure that your personal data falls back into your hands now, before you work to protect it in the future.