Tuesday, 19 October 2010

When Enrolling for a New Service You Should Always Go Through the Fine Print

At the RSA Security Europe Conference in London, individual privacy was at the front of people's discussions. It has been debated that society and communication has changed irrevocably and that will have a negative impact on personal privacy levels. Decades ago, conversation was generally done face to face or on the phone. Now, lots of communication is carried out by email and websites. This will create a saved hard record of all communication.

Getting rid of an email will not necessarily get rid of it. The recipient or sender will still have a copy of the email on their account. Furthermore, huge data centres now make it really easy to record online conversation. It was argued that inexpensive technology costs and increasing memory capacities mean that saving and collecting data is now more possible than it was some years ago.

You may be wondering why it matters, but private data can result in money and having access to plenty of personal data can result in companies making more money. Everyday, this is often seen when signing up for something new, with those 'select here if you do not wish to have any communication from the company'; this happens offline as well. However, how many users read all of the privacy policies and terms of agreement for the computer applications we use or the websites that we use? It may well be shocking to examine a few of them and understand precisely what the software is allowed to do with your data.

Facebook has routinely been derided for the convoluted privacy policy and not being transparent with users. It is completely possible for you to read almost all the details on somebody's page if they haven't enabled certain privacy configurations. While the safety mindful amongst all of us will certainly be sure to set the privacy options accordingly, lots of users tend not to know they are even exposing themselves to prospective online crime and identity theft. It is not simply sufficient to claim that it is their mistake if their level of privacy becomes compromised. Additionally, companies should never desire to deceive users on purpose so as to facilitate easier data farming.

Google has recently been faced with a great deal of social and political criticism with regard to its gathering of private wi-fi data whilst gathering data as part of its StreetView service. Google essentially listened in to people's wi-fi connections and saved personal and private data. Google's blasé response upset lots of people and many national governments got drawn into the debate challenging the legality of Google's actions.

The more information an organization has on you, the more they can charge advertisers in order to target you. If an organization knows that you are female, aged between 30-40 and have two children, well then advertisers will pay more because they are able to target advertisements more efficiently. If an advert gets targeted at the proper consumer then the sellers will see more results. Advertisers are willing to pay a premium since then they could target with toy, home improvements and kitchen advertisements, compared to advertisements for weight lifting or extreme sports (although these are large generalizations).

Thus, it is crucial to always ensure you have read the terms of agreement accurately. Whenever you sign up for anything you are basically signing a contract. It would be terrible to imagine that one speedy sign up for something could result in anything bad many years later. Always read the terms well, it may be hackneyed but it just might save you. Additionally, you should also always have safe Internet safety practices. Owning a good password is a good first step but you might also want to try an online password manager that would increase your security by a lot! You can save passwords to a site and keep them safe and secure.

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