Data Privacy Week – Where Is Your Data?

Welcome to Data Privacy Week 2023! This event is “sponsored” by the National Cybersecurity Alliance, whose goal is empowering a more secure, interconnected world. They do this by providing individuals and companies with as much information as they can about data privacy, cybersecurity, and online safety. Since they work on both sides of the digital interconnect, user and company, they can effectively provide accurate and empowering information to both parties. This week is all about data privacy and the only way to start out discussing data privacy is by asking “where is your data”? The real answer is “everywhere”.

Your data, whether it was freely submitted by you on a website form or gathered more “in the background” by the sites you visit, has been a hot commodity for around twenty years, with major companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and others collecting, selling, buying, and exploiting that data to make billions of dollars. Just like newspapers never really made money on subscriptions, with the vast majority of their income made up of advertising sales, so the idea continues today as sites provide you with services for no or low fees and assault you with ads, especially the free services and sites.

Thankfully, websites are required to provide you with information on what data they collect and what they do with that data. They also must provide some controls over the use of that data, but in reality, that only really applies to provided data, not collected data. It also really only applies to the initial collector of that data. Once that data is traded off, and almost every privacy policy allows for this, you have little to no control over where it goes, so it is vital to prevent the collection at the start. The key is making sure you read the privacy policy and terms of use for the site to make sure you trust them enough to give them your data.

The National Cybersecurity Alliance has great resources on how to prevent data collection, how to minimize your exposure, and browse safely online. In particular, this page will tell you how to access the privacy settings of dozens of sites.

Welcome to Data Privacy Week and remember to report those phishing emails! There will be a drawing at the end of the month for a desktop spinner. Everyone who reports a phishing email will be eligible for the drawing. To learn how to properly report a phishing email, go to this Quick Info page.

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