Your privacy matters

Mon, May 16 2016

PRIA has proudly joined OAIC (Office of the Australian Information Commissioner) as a Privacy Awareness Week 2016 Partner. In the following week, we’ll be reinforcing the message that organisations, agencies and individuals must be vigilant in maintaining a good understanding of their rights and responsibilities for the handling of personal information. This is why I think it’s a good moment to consider if we are sharing too much of ourselves online and how those platforms we use manage the personal information we are giving them.

Do you ever check what your info is used for?

With the daily use of social media platforms, and the apparent need for people to share what they do every minute of their days, the Internet has now more information about us. Be it family photo albums, our resume or even our journal. There’s no point on asking your friend what he/she is doing anymore; with a quick browse on their Twitter or Instagram account, you know exactly where he/she is, what he/she’s thinking and even what type of coffee he/she’s drinking. And there’s a picture to prove it. We are exposed to so much personal information of friends and people that we barely know, thanks to people broadcasting their lives hour by hour - but at what cost?

I think the social interactions that all these platforms offer are amazing. It goes from getting a better job (LinkedIn); keeping in contact with people that are in a different country (Facebook); or even getting a better experience when traveling to your next destination, thanks to hotel, restaurants and activities reviews (Tripadvisor). But where’s the limit? When do we expose ourselves to the point it becomes a risk? We need to start making smart use of social media (and other Internet platforms in general), because what seems beneficial for our social lives can be really harmful. We don’t want “that” type of video getting into the wrong hands. Most of these accounts are open to the public; and even if there’s an option to set the account private, most people don’t use it; they love everyone seeing what they’re doing. In my opinion all this sharing can cause a lot of trouble if it’s seen by the wrong person, and this is where we don’t have control over (or we are not willing to take the control); our information is exposed to a huge number of unknown people. How safe do you think it is that a stranger knows where you are at every moment of your day? Try googling your phone number, it’s scary. Certainly we need to protect ourselves and the people around us, because we can’t be sure what others can do with this kind of knowledge in their hands.

 

In the other hand, we find companies and the way they handle their data base. When you sign up/subscribe to a new website or social media platform or when you decide to buy online, you are giving that company certain personal information (such as name, email, phone number, address,…); and most of the time you click “accept” the terms & conditions and “submit” without knowing their privacy policies; always check. Facebook messenger is the worst; by signing up, you allow them to listen to your calls! No lie. We sometimes go through this process a couple times a week, with simple actions like connecting to a new Wifi network in a public area. If you think about it, we are giving our details several times a month and we don’t even know where the information is going, who has access to it and what they can do with it.

That’s why it’s important for companies to take responsibility and be transparent clear about how they handle the user’s information. If the netizens have any doubt about it they can quickly go to the ‘Privacy’ tab in any website to reference the company’s privacy policy. If they don’t have one, be worried! We don’t want this data to be going all around the net and leak from business to business without our permission. Although, even if it is secure, something like Wikileaks can always happen.

 

So either if you the manager of a company or an user, my advice is to be smart when using tools the Internet offers us, especially in regards with your own personal information.

For further viewing, check out the classic movie “The Net”, with Sandra Bullock.

 

 

See PRIA’s Privacy Policy here.

PRIA has partnered with OAIC for the Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) 2016 campaign. Find more about it here

 

 

Author: Berenice Ruiz, Marketing and Communication Intern, PRIA.

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