The truth is, we can’t rely on governments and corporations to protect our privacy. With the repeated data breaches we are seeing and the lack of enforcement of privacy laws, it’s a virtual guarantee that your personal information has been compromised in some way.
There is no reason to put tin foil on your head to protect your privacy. Understanding the cycles of collecting information can help you determine where your information is at risk and how to protect it.
Where Privacy and Sharing in an online world collide:
Targeted Mailing Lists
Experian, and MANY other providers, are in the business of collecting and selling information. They have social media marketing reports and consumer marketing leads. It appears that anyone with a credit card number can buy this information. So, Experian is using the information they collected on our PERSONAL credit reports – then selling it? It’s no wonder they got hacked…..
State Sunshine Laws (see Florida’s law)
Governments have a responsibility to be transparent in how they conduct business. However, at what point does government transparency translate to acceptable violations of personally identifiable information (PII) laws and best practices? The laws are written to exempt government from PII violations. Ex. If you volunteer for any county or state boards, and/or serve in any public office, PII will be published about you that is easily accessible by ANYONE
Do some due diligence before applying to government boards or running for public offices. Many applications ask for information that goes WAY beyond what is necessary for compliance with Sunshine laws. Work with the application process to ensure that you are ONLY providing the required information and that PII like social security numbers and drivers license numbers will be redacted.
Driver’s License swiping (see Florida’s law)
I’m seeing more and more service providers, i.e. doctor’s offices, Winn Dixie, etc. swiping driver’s licenses to collect information. It’s doubtful that they are fully compliant or legally authorized to do this. The magnetic strip on your driver’s license contains encoded information about you.
In the United States, we demand UNLIMITED, ON-DEMAND internet access. The price for that is that many businesses offer free wi-fi as a perk. Great right? Not really. Hacking via public WIFI has become a common occurrence. It’s the equivalent of posting a sign on the front door of your house that says, “free lodging”, leaving all your valuables on the kitchen table and leaving the front door unlocked while you run errands. THEN wondering why your stuff got stolen! Businesses should have a clearly defined policy on Public WIFI usage. Hotspots are very inexpensive compared to the costs of a data breach. With all the unlimited data plans out there, I’m not sure why people are still using public WIFI. Is it because they think they are getting something free?
There is NO way to 100% secure all your personal information in a sharing world. There are things you can do to guard your information.
- opt out of data brokers websites. There are hundreds of these data brokers. Start with the major brokers. Be cautious about their requirements for removal. If they require a drivers license to confirm removal – I don’t recommend doing that – move on to the next broker. Feel free to review my tweet about this from June 2017
- enroll in do not call registries. This keeps your phone numbers off most lists/sites that sell this information
- don’t allow anyone to swipe your driver’s license without reviewing their WRITTEN policy
- invest in a VPN (and use it) – later in the series we will talk about VPN’s located in and outside the United States and why that’s important
- only give your personal email addresses to trusted accounts where you regularly do business. For signing up to nonsense accounts – create an email address specifically for that – like [email protected]
Today’s favorite: https://www.iso.org/iso-26000-social-responsibility.html