Most users understand very little about how companies manage their data. However, almost every netizen has come across companies’ privacy policies one way or the other. With concerns regarding the privacy and security of personal data rising, it’s all the more critical that we all take the time to read them.
Data privacy policies: why are they important?
A survey carried out by the Pew Research Center shows that as many as 97% of Americans were approached to give their consent to data privacy policies. However, very few of them (only 9% of the adults surveyed) said they go through company privacy policies before agreeing. With data-sharing becoming the norm over time, consumers need to understand the importance of privacy policies.
The General Data Protection Regulation, formulated in the European Union in 2018, mentions that privacy policies should be written in clear and plain language and presented in a transparent, intelligible, and concise form. Unfortunately, in reality, it certainly isn’t so.
While participating in a New York Times privacy project, Kevin Litman-Navarro went through 150 privacy policies, including those of Airbnb and the BBC. He found out that each of them was unnecessarily lengthy and filled with legal jargon.
Naturally, as a Pew Research Center study shows, most Americans are very concerned about their data security and how it’s shared. Six out of ten Americans said they wanted to do more to protect their privacy. Therefore, you should start educating yourself about privacy policies.
Here’s what You Can Do
However, the chances are that you use a bunch of services without reading the terms you have agreed to during signup. You can limit the number of details companies get to access. For instance, you should provide them with the bare minimum. If a service requires your date of birth, home address, or phone number, do not be hasty to provide this information. If those details are not vital (for instance, an online shop might need your address to deliver goods), do not provide them.
A VPN also protects your online privacy by hiding your browsing history and IP address. It does so by establishing an encrypted connection between your device and the server. Thus, an online VPN prevents IP-based tracking and helps you blend into the crowd for a more anonymous online experience.