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Consumers want privacy: how can companies oblige?

data privacy

Data privacy becomes a more significant talking point with each passing day as the cybercrime is rising. The data you produce is valuable, even if it is not tangible. Thus, customers respond to these threats in many ways. Some might feel helpless, unsure of where to start. However, others might take matters into their own hands. For instance, clients might reject or drop services that infringe on their privacy. After all, more private browsers and apps are slowly gaining momentum.  

So, consumers want privacy and security. But how can companies oblige? Some practices are deeply rooted, making changes difficult. Well, that is what you can determine throughout this piece.  

Are the Current Data Privacy Laws Effective? 

Governments worldwide have taken users’ wishes into account. In many countries, laws and regulations instruct corporations on how to treat their clients’ data. But are they effective in keeping up with the ever-changing technology? Sadly, it is not always the case.  

It is not just about enforcement but the areas that they cover. The General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) in the EU is an excellent example. While it states that companies should have a reasonable level of security regarding user data, it struggles to define what reasonable security means. Thus, such documents get regular reviews and adjustments.  

Methods that Allow Big Tech to Extract Your Personal Data 

Despite the legal measures, there are many ways companies can extract your data legally. These include, but are not limited to, the following. 

Privacy and Licensing Statements 

When installing any software, you often come across a privacy and licensing agreement that is just too long to read in one sitting. While several companies have reduced it to make it more understandable to the average user, some still stick to lengthy documents.  

By agreeing to it, you may give consent to the developer to collect and use your data, even allowing them to share it with third parties. You may also relinquish your right to take legal action against the company should your data end up in the wrong hands. 

Cookies and Page-View Statistics 

While it can be illegal for any website to collect information directly from users without their consent, it can go around the regulations using cookies and page-view stats. The company might say that it’s for “curating user experience,’ but they can get the analytics they need to identify you personally. They only need your IP address, fields of interest, and email ID to identify you. 

App Permissions 

Your phone has more than enough data for any developer to know who you are. When you provide app permissions such as microphone and text messages, they often remain valid if the app is installed on the phone. 

During that time, the app can read all your texts, record your conversations, and view your folder activity as per the permissions granted. That gives it enough data to personally identify any user, even gaining access to their cards and bank accounts. 

Fortunately, several smartphone manufacturers offer hard-wired solutions that only let the apps use your phone’s data when you allow them to. Nevertheless, it is yet to go mainstream, especially with Android smartphones. 

How Companies Can Rebuild Customer Trust in Digital Privacy 

Companies can become more transparent and loyal to their customers. A tech firm can utilize any of the following methods to help their users rebuild trust in them: 

  • Being specific with how they process their user data and where they share it. 
  • Using secure servers to store user data so that it stays out of reach from the government or data brokers. 
  • Informing the users whenever they make changes within their privacy statements or update their data collection mechanisms. 
  • Only using necessary statistics from a website or app with explicit consent from the users. 

How Can Users Aim for Data Privacy? 

Since you can’t currently rely on corporations or the government, you must take matters into your own hands. The following tips can help you take back control of your data privacy. 

Sharing Only Necessary Information 

If you don’t share your information digitally, it won’t be there to be stolen. That’s why it is a good idea not to use real names, dates of birth, addresses, and similar information unless it’s necessary. Use aliases if you believe you need no long-term connection with a service. Moreover, it is best to use a family member’s phone number for online orders. 

Reviewing Website/App Preferences 

It pays to review app and website preferences from time to time. You can do it from your browser or smartphone in the Privacy section in Settings. Revoke the permissions you don’t desire or are applicable for services you no longer use. 

Installing a Reliable Antivirus 

Modern antivirus software helps you stay one step ahead regarding data privacy. They monitor all connections to your system and warn of any active trackers that can transmit your personal information through the internet. 

Using a VPN 

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) masks your computer’s IP address. It also encrypts all incoming/outgoing data packets from your PC. That way, online entities can’t obtain as much data about you. Furthermore, even if hackers successfully intercept your connection, a VPN for Windows should keep it scrambled. Thus, malicious parties won’t be able to obtain valuable data.  

Summary 

There is a long period when the legal system finally catches up to big tech companies. We hope this piece provided an excellent viewpoint that consumers want privacy: how can companies oblige? That’s simple: by being honest and forthcoming. 

Read Next: 52% of SMBs are not much confident in their cyber resilience, reveals study

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