Are you in control of your private data?

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22/08/2018 Do you know what your data is up to? With major data breaches being announced every week, here's Resolver's advice on dealing with your data.

Once upon a time, the internet was a great place that made our lives easier with a minimum of fuss. In the last year, however, we’ve discovered that all kinds of businesses are harvesting our data, recording our internet searches, monitoring our interests and flogging it all back to us.

Loads of people are telling us they’re worried about what businesses are doing with their data – and we don’t blame them. Many of the big businesses that have been in the news lately, like Facebook and Google, don’t make it easy to make complaints. Others, like Amazon, Uber and Apple, insist on you using their own complaints systems – so it’s hard to know if their customer service is any good or not (though from what you’ve been telling me, it’s often not great).

As a consequence, tackling data misuse complaints is something that’s very much on our minds at the moment. But the good news is there are things you can do already if you think your data has been mishandled. Here are a few tips:

  • Update your settings: From social media to shopping sites, go in to the settings/profile pages and change everything you can that will stop the sharing of your info. Do it while you’re watching the TV or listening to the radio so it’s not such a chore!
  • GDPaaarrrggghhhh! How annoying are those GDPR emails clogging up your inbox? Businesses and organisations have over-reacted a bit to the new data protection rules and are desperate for you to say they can still market stuff to you. It’s a big old drag but take the time to go through them. Think of it as having a salesperson clear-out!
  • Report bad practice. Reports have told Resolver of some email service providers asking their users to opt out of targeted advertising – then expecting them to individually do this for hundreds of organisations. That’s totally unacceptable. Make a complaint and tell the business to opt you out of everything. They shouldn’t be making life difficult.
  • Log-in liabilities: Remembering passwords is a real pain – as is typing in long email addresses and log in details. So when you get the option to log in using other websites so you don’t have to input all that info, it’s tempting. Watch out though, if you use Facebook or Google to log on to websites, you’re creating online links and allowing them to share data. Take the extra 30 seconds to log-in direct.
  • Getting serious. Sometimes data breaches can have significant consequences. I’ve helped sort out complaints about private information left on trains, credit card details sold to fraudsters abroad and in the most serious cases, information on people’s identity and location disclosed to violent former partners. Wherever we work, we have a responsibility to protect the data we hold on file. If you spot poor practice, report it.
  • Find out what’s on file: You’re entitled to ask a business to give you copies of the information held on file about you, either informally or through a ‘subject access’ request. The Information Commissioner has a great guide on their website on how to do this.
  • …Speaking of which: If you think a firm has misused your data, you can make a complaint to the Information Commission for free. They can’t compensate you, but they can fine firms that mishandle data (and frequently do) so I’d encourage people to speak up if they’ve been let down.

For too long, some businesses have treated your data like it’s theirs to exploit. But the tide has turned – so seize control of your data back!

Tags: news data GDPR

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