This post regarding personal data is in partnership with caprivacy.org. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Inspired by This!
Today on the blog we are discussing a topic that is often an afterthought to all of us using the Internet. We’re talking about the topic of personal data! To be precise, we are chatting about how to keep your personal data safe with 5 tips. However, before we offer our 5 tips we want to make sure we are all on the same page. Let us set the foundation of the seriousness of this topic, and how we can almost guarantee it will affect you, even if you didn’t know so already…
What if a stranger came up to you and started looking through your cell phone, demanding to see everything like your emails, texts, and contacts? This stranger would also see information like how many steps you take a day, and the data you give a fertility app when tracking your period, which isn’t protected as health data under federal law (HIPAA) unless it crosses a doctor’s threshold. Well, this isn’t a hypothetical. This information is gathered on you and your loved ones NOW every day, without you knowing, and is used and sold to large companies, like data brokers, to do things like set consumer insurance rates, is fed into algorithms to predict your future behavior (like what purchases you are likely to make), and even used to persuade voters.
If you are alarmed, you are not alone. We are right there with you, but fret not, we have 5 tips to keep your personal data safe we know will have you bookmarking this page to continuously check back in on. Read on for 5 ways to protect your personal data, including information on a measure that’s on the ballot in California this November!
.01 – Audit your location tracking.
The first step to taking back your data privacy is limiting the location tracking on your phone. It is likely that a lot of the apps are tracking your location all the time without you even knowing so. Yikes, right?! To get to your location services on an iPhone go to settings > privacy > location services. There you should find a list of the apps tracking your location. It’s time to get rid of any you do not find essential, or that you didn’t realize were collecting your location data.
.02 – Protect your children.
When we think about our data, we often overlook the fact that our children have data that can be sold just like ours. The thought is terrifying, but it is reality. However, there are steps you can take to protect your children’s data, too! So it’s important to not only check their phones regularly to make sure they have all their security settings in check but to also make sure you teach them about the importance of data privacy.
.03 – Keep passwords off your phone.
This should go without being said, but your password directory does not belong on your phone. Annoying but true. If companies can track and sell your data, you better believe your passwords are accessible as well. And heaven forbid if you have your social security number in your notes! If so, it’s time for you to delete that. We promise there are other methods of keeping your passwords in an accessible spot. We love a good old fashioned password book that can stay safe in a locked desk drawer!
.04 – Disable Bluetooth when not using it, and ditch the phone.
Raise your hand if you have AirPods?! Yeah, us too. This was a hard pill to swallow. Because your AirPods use Bluetooth it means there is another accessible point of entry to your data. We are not saying throw your AirPods in the trash, we just want to make sure if you are not using your Bluetooth function you turn it off to limit the time it is available.
.05 – Vote for change.
Last but certainly not least, vote for change. If you happen to live in California, like us, then you are in luck. We have a chance to make history by voting for stronger data privacy laws in this upcoming election.
Proposition 24, the California Privacy Rights Act on the ballot, gives consumers the power to stop abuses of data like this. Prop 24 lets people stop large companies from using their sensitive personal information like their: (1) race and ethnicity, (2) health, (3) sexual orientation, (4) religion, (5) precise geolocation.
Having stronger protections from being tracked by your precise geolocation is really important, and there are numerous egregious examples of women being tracked that go too far. Imagine getting tracked when you’re at a peaceful protest, or when you’re at a doctor’s appointment. Companies can then use that data to target you with specific political or personal ads. If that feels too personal, that’s because it is!
You take your cell phone everywhere you go, only you should get to decide how information from it is used. Prop 24 lets you stop this invasive tracking. It also puts up stronger guardrails for children and triples fines for abuses of kids’ data, which is important now more than ever since kids are online for school, and why Common Sense Media, a leader for keeping kids safe online, is supporting it.
Remember, if the service or app is free, YOU are the product. Fem Tech, which is an industry that creates digital tools for women’s health needs, is fueled by making money from your data: it will be a $50 billion industry in the next 5 years.
There have even been instances of political campaigns using personal data to deter voter turnout in specific demographic groups. Your data belongs to you, and you should have control over who has access to it and how they can use it.
In many ways, using the word privacy isn’t the correct word with all of this, this is truly about power. This is the most profitable industry the world has ever seen. Data is the oil of the 21st Century and our consumer data is the gasoline that is fueling things against us, like algorithmic bias, and targeting us based on our race and sexual orientation.
California has the chance to lead the county by passing Prop 24 to set a strong floor for federal data privacy legislation, so all Americans can have the fundamental right to control their personal data.
It’s YOUR personal information, only YOU should be in control of it. Prop 24 shifts this power into consumers’ hands by giving them greater choice about how their data is used and sold. Vote yes.
Looking for similar advice tips, check out our guide to navigating what back to school looks like in 2020.