Data Privacy – The need of the hour

The past couple of years have revealed an interesting insight into consumer behaviour. With numerous data leak and misuse scandals frequenting the headlines, people are becoming increasingly aware about the issue of data privacy. At the same time, people are likelier than ever to share their personal information (like their Gallery pictures) with applications and tech companies.

In 2018, despite the concerns raised due to the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, the popularity of Facebook-owned products like Instagram, only skyrocketed further. More recently, Amazon has rolled out a policy/feature where it pays its consumers $ 10 for their personal information. 

Most of the time, when people download a trending new app on their phone, they don’t read the Terms and Conditions before installing it. Nearly every one of us is guilty of granting access to apps to all of our personal mobile data – Gallery, messages, contacts and even call log. People fill up their phones with apps they don’t really need – an app to put a virtual flower crown, another that comes with an old-age filter – numerous such apps that not only take up space, but also have access to sensitive information, such as your personal messages or even your location at all times of the day.

Your personal information can be used by corporations for targeted advertising and marketing. Details such as your age, gender, location and even pages you like or follow on social media, are sold to third parties for monetary gain.

While all of this may seem harmless on the surface – you may think you have nothing to hide after all – this is an issue that can have much deeper ramifications. Incidents such as identity theft, financial fraud using card details and email accounts getting hacked are unfortunately all too common in Cyberia. According to a recent report, identity theft is not only on the rise in India, but also the leading cause of fraud. Your pictures, too, could be used for the wrong purposes, if they get into the hands of the wrong people. 

To keep your personal information private, we’ve compiled a few do’s and don’ts here.

  1. Keep all of your social media accounts on Private, especially Facebook and Instagram.
  2. When filling out forms online, for subscribing to a service or product or other reasons, only fill out the details that are absolutely necessary. 
  3. For financial transactions, make sure you only share your card details, if the website comes with an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate, and if the URL begins with https. The ‘s’ at the end of https signifies that the site has been certified as secure. 
  4. This one is a no-brainer, but the importance of keeping a strong password simply cannot be stressed enough. Don’t use passwords like “password” or “123456” or your name or date of birth. Use long passwords, preferably with a mix of alphabets, numbers and special characters, which can’t be guessed very easily.
  5. If an app asks for access to your Gallery, call log, contacts, etc., download it only if you think it’s really important. Also remember that a lot of apps don’t really need your details to function normally, so just keep this in mind before you hit ‘Accept’. 

Remember, if you’re not paying for a product, you are the product. Data privacy is integral to your financial and social safety, so, only opt for those products and services, where the terms and conditions clearly demonstrate value for your privacy. 

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