My Results: State of Online Privacy

Communicate About Privacy

If you want to keep your information private, take action!

  1. Submit complaints to businesses that don’t respect your privacy preferences. Alert other users to the specific problem via review systems.
  2. Write to government representatives expressing your views:

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

Educate yourself about current laws and regulations. Be aware that laws are continually changing in order to adapt to current technology.

Check out apps, sites, and services before you use them. Read the privacy policy; if you don't like what it says about what the provider will do with your data and who they may share it with, you can do business with a different provider (even if it means paying slightly more—a "privacy premium").

If you can't bring yourself to read through the official Privacy Policies, use a cheat sheet like one of these:

Adjust Your Privacy Settings

Keep up with changes to privacy settings and policies.

  1. 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:
  2. Update software/apps, as new privacy settings may become available.
  3. 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:

Manage Your Profiles

If an app or site asks for your personal information, weigh the benefits before giving it.

  1. 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?
  2. If you don't know how an organization or service will use your information—either because they don't say or because their privacy policy is too unclear for you to read—consider not giving it to them, or at least limiting what information you give them.
    1. Don't fill in non-required fields.
    2. 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.
  3. Watch these short videos to see how much information we give away without thinking.
    1. If your shop assistant was an app
    2. #PrivacyProject

Privacy Tips for Businesses

To effectively protect customers’, clients’, or donors’ privacy, it helps to start with a comprehensive plan.

  1. Use these resources for any size business to help you protect your customers:
  2. Large businesses or those that handle a lot of sensitive data may need a dedicated staff person to handle privacy:

Keep up with new laws and regulations about protecting your customers' privacy. Professional associations and local or state business associations often have best practices that can help you comply with the laws for your industry and area, but make sure their recommendations are current before enacting them.

Your employees also have privacy rights you should be aware of:

Be selective about the software and communication platforms you use in your business or organization. If it doesn't state clearly in the terms of service or user agreement that they will not share your data or your customers' or donors' data with any other entities, contact the company and ask. If you can't get a straight answer, choose a different platform.

Resources to Learn More About the Topic

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