Data protection and privacy is expected across the internet nowadays. Data privacy concerns have been up in the air as multiple stories emerge concerning what companies do with people’s data and who they share this with.
What is the problem?
When signing up to anything which involves an application collecting your data such as, email address, phone number, home address and anything else it often involves a series of T&Cs pop up. In most cases no one reads these however some of them state that the data you enter will be shared with third party companies. As most people accept without reading this allows companies to share your data without sharing the password and since the user has agreed it is all lawful.
Apps within social media platforms are one of the most common ways for third parties to gather data, many of which are used a handful of times and then never used again. This means years after not using an app your data may still be stored and used by this company.
Smartphone apps pose another significant threat as more than 70% of smartphone apps are giving personal data to third-party tracking companies. When it comes to phones this data can be up to date location, web browsing behaviour, text messages, contacts and everything else you can imagine.
What has happened?
The Observer revealed that in 2014, 50 million Facebook profiles were harvested through a quiz in which people were asked to take a personality test. Through this they managed to gather data on those respondents Facebook friends. The company who collated the data named Global Science Research made a deal with Cambridge Analytica to share the information.
It was also revealed Android users have had their call log and messages recorded by Facebook’s messaging service app. However, this was also done lawfully, and the user had agreed to this before they entered the app.
Gap dating app Grindr has come under pressure for sharing a user’s HIV status and location with two companies they associate with. Grindr have since said this was “industry practice” and they would never sell personally data.
As this is technically within the law the businesses such as Facebook and Grindr will likely face no punishment apart from reputation damage.
Facebook have made a big effort to change the ease of viewing your data that is stored and giving the user a lot more freedom about what data is shared. Previously It had been difficult to find out what data was being shared and even harder to be able to stop this data altogether. The new tool will tighten up data protection and combine all the settings into one easy to use page.
With these issues being in the news lately and the GDPR laws coming into place in May 2018 this has given other businesses to tighten up their data privacy and how the user can access this. Apple had released a new update for Mac and iPhone users which gives them even greater control over what data is stored. Whilst, Instagram is planning to limit how much data some developers can collect and cutting off others altogether.
How can you protect your data?
Although companies will protect your data, you can take extra measures to make sure external apps aren’t using your data or sharing this with companies they shouldn’t be.
- Keep an eye out for apps which require you to log in through different platforms, they can often require a range of permissions designed to collect your data, many people agree to these without full knowledge.
- In your security settings you can alter what data is shared with apps and which apps you already share with. You can restrict yourself from sharing any data with future apps which may ask for this however it may stop you from being able to use them apps. You can also remove apps of which you have previously shared data, this will remove your data from that company as they are only required to keep it if you are using the app.
- It is possible to download a copy of the data that Facebook holds on you, although this isn’t very detailed.