28th January is commemorated as ‘Data Privacy Day’ worldwide.
While the Data Privacy and Security folks are all charged up and enthusiastic, as always, about this day, we find that it quietly passes by the vast majority of people for whom it is actually relevant – all of you out there who are heavily invested in the digital world via Emails, via social media like Facebook / Twitter, via online activities like shopping or simply browsing, or via even simple sms’ing.
So we at Arrka decided to mark this day by kicking-off our own small contribution to the world of Data Privacy: a series of short posts to educate and spread awareness about the Why?-What?-When?-How?-Where? of data privacy.
This is the first in the series: Why is Data Privacy relevant to ME?
So do you do any of the following?
- Browse the web?
- Send email?
- Use Search (like Google)?
- Send smses?
- Use Social Media like Facebook, etc?
- Fill out (paper-based) forms from time to time?
If ‘yes’ to any of the above, then you are in the direct line of the privacy fire.
Here are a few points that will probably have you sit up and realise why:
- 300 Billion1 plus emails are sent & received everyday. Copies of ALL of them go into permanent storage somewhere on the Internet – even the ones you delete!
- Most email service providers and corporate email services can and do track WHERE you opened your email from and WHEN
- The content of ALL emails sent & received via free, public mail services (like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc) are noted & tracked by the service provider. How else do you think you get to see ‘related ads’ next to your mail messages (Test it out – open a gmail message and check out the ads that pop up next to it)
- All mails sent & received using corporate mail ids are stored and archived by the company – even the ones you delete.
- There are 1 Billion plus users on Facebook today serving up 650,000 comments per min2
- Every move you make on Facebook is analysed and put into permanent storage
- Status messages, comments, likes, info, messages, photos…
- deleted messages, events, date/time/location of logins, multiple users on one comp….
- Facebook also collects all sorts of background info while you browse
- For eg, it tracks which other websites you visit when you are logged in– even if you don’t hit the “like” button on the other website
- And remember, Facebook is a publicly listed company now, under pressure to monetize its rich data!
-Google records 2 million searches per min2
- For each search query, it stores your search history, which sites you visit from the search results and your location
- Remember, the search terms you feed in are used to form your behavioral profile – which in turn is shared with online ad networks
-Every sms you send is stored permanently by your mobile service provider
-What about the physical world?
- Have you ever filled out a Credit card / insurance / etc application and never actually got the product? Ever wondered where that personal info you filled out has gone?
- When was the last time you filled out a contest form or dropped off your visiting card for a ‘lucky draw’? Ever wondered who ALL get hold of that info you give out?
We live in an era where we “trade” our personal info for a number of free services in return. This is fair indeed – under various circumstances. It is just that, as an individual, it is important that you KNOW that you are doing this trade and are fully aware of your actions and their implications.
A lot of the current global conversations on Data Privacy and its related policies, regulations and laws are with regard to bringing out ‘what goes on underneath’ to the forefront and giving individuals the right to control at least some aspects of this phenomenon – as well as holding organisations & governments dealing with personal data responsible and liable for the security and proper use of the same.
Over a series of subsequent posts, we intend to ‘de-mystify’ data privacy a bit, explain HOW a lot of this happens and generally equip you with necessary awareness so you know how to be careful as you reap the joys and benefits of today’s digital world.
Meanwhile, the best thing to do is ‘Stay Paranoid and thus, Stay Safe’
PS: Remember to follow this blog to keep abreast of our subsequent blog posts.
-Posted by Shivangi Nadkarni, Co-Founder & CEO, Arrka Consulting. www.arrka.com | @arrka2 | @shivanginadkarn