“How To” on Digital Privacy



Last week, Kate Murphy of the New York Times published an article entitled, How to Muddy Your Tracks on the Internet.  What really impressed me about this article is that we now need to to take proactive steps and possibly even spend our own money to protect our online privacy – something that should have been respected by businesses and protected by laws that already exist. What a sorry state of affairs.

Privacy_How_ToLook – most of us have nothing to hide – legally speaking.  We are good people and law abiding citizens.  But, some things should only be shared with family members, close friends or healthcare professionals.  Other things?  Fine.  Share away!  What has our panties in a twist is that something was taken from us without our express permission.  We were not respected and we have no choice.  Most companies have decent privacy policies and are not out to harm their customers.  They are pretty good about not actively sharing your data.  It’s the passive sharing that’s causing the furor.

The problem with most privacy policies is the “sharing with 3rd parties to deliver our services” clause that frequently exists.  What are the 3rd parties doing with customer data after they’ve delivered the service to the “first party”?  Are they storing my information and browsing habits?  Are they profiling me?  Are they selling the data to someone else and making a profit?  All of this is legal in the U.S. – at least for now – but it doesn’t make it right.  Do Not Track is only the tip of the iceberg.   Why not just deliver my service and dump the data?  Why not tell me in the privacy policy what the 3rd parties are really doing, so I can make a better choice?

  1. Tell me clearly and completely what you are doing (and not doing) with my data
  2. Take the time to research your service delivery partners and understand their business models and what they are and are not doing with your customer’s data
  3. Hold your service partners contractually responsible to the agreed upon data use terms

These three simple things will go a long way to improving trust on the Web.  I think that more good can from teaching businesses how to do privacy right than from teaching consumers how to protect their privacy.  We’re happy to help.  Give us a call!

In the mean time, as individual Web users, follow Ms. Murphy’s advice and learn how to protect the data you don’t want shared.

Posted in: #privacy, Privacy, Uncategorized

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