My Results: State of Online Privacy
Think About Consequences
Before you provide personal information to get an app or online service, ask yourself: How might this app or service benefit from having this information? Could those benefits be detrimental to me?
When deciding whether to communicate sensitive information online, consider that people, companies, and governments might make mistakes, not behave ethically, or or might not follow the law—nor even their own policies—about how to treat your private information. In many cases, there may not even be any laws governing the use of your information.
Learn About Online Privacy
If you can't bring yourself to read through the official Privacy Policies, use a cheat sheet like one of these:
- Ratings Based on Whether Apps Collect Only the Information You Expect: Privacy Grade: Grading the Privacy of Smartphone Apps
- Ratings of How Sites Protect Your Information from Government Requests: Who Has Your Back (2018 Edition)
Adjust Your Privacy Settings
Keep up with changes to privacy settings and policies.
- Pay attention to updates from services, websites, and app providers about privacy settings and policies. As a backup, you can check out this update site:
- Service That Tracks Changes to Privacy Policies for Major Sites: TOSBack: The Terms-of-Service Tracker
- Update software/apps, as new privacy settings may become available.
- Regularly review and update your privacy settings in case the options have changed. Use these guides to help you check the settings most important to you:
- Directory of Resources for Managing Your Settings: Privacy Settings How-To's
Manage Your Profiles
If an app or site asks for your personal information, weigh the benefits before giving it.
- Ask yourself: Do they really need this information to provide the service? What permissions are they asking for and do they really need access to that information?
- Don't fill in non-required fields.
- You may be able to give false information in the required fields if it's not necessary to the service you're getting. However, you should check the provider's terms of service first to make sure they do not require that your personal information be correct. Don't give false information to banks, government agencies, and other highly regulated services, as it may be illegal.
- Watch these short videos to see how much information we give away without thinking.
Resources to Learn More About the Topic
Privacy Laws and Regulations
- Summary of the Current State of U.S. Online Privacy Laws: Internet Law - Privacy (from USLegal)
- Analysis of What the United States Constitution Says or Implies About Privacy: The Right of Privacy
- For Parents - Protecting Children’s Privacy Online – A Guide for Parents, Carers and Educators
Consumer Privacy Policies and the Value of Information
- An Engaging Feature-Length Film, and an Accompanying Resource Website: Terms and Conditions May Apply
- Quick Explanation of What's in Privacy Policies: Privacy Policies: What You Should Know
- Explanations, Advice, and Resources About (the Lack of) Online Privacy Protections: Only You Have an Interest in Maintaining Your Privacy