In a world that demands an increasing amount of data, it is important to keep track of how it is being used.
There are all sorts of demands for personal data in the modern world. Consumers are regularly asked to give up data to applications or to companies in order to get access to better services.
For example, an application might ask for access to your location in order to serve up tailored advertisements that are relevant to where you are at the time.
This use of data can provide better user experiences for customers and may be considered a price worth paying.
However, sometimes companies provide little clarity or transparency about how they use data. Many will have been subjected to irritating cold calls after giving away their mobile number online.
If you are concerned about how your data is used and who it is used by there are a number of steps you can take.
With mobile devices, applications that request data will tell you before they do so, when the app is installed. It is worth checking what they are asking for and how they plan to use it.
For example, do you really want an application to have access to your photos? Why does it need it, and should it really be asking for this information?
This is good hygiene for preventing the danger from rogue or malicious applications, which pose as useful applications but then harvest user data using the authorisations the smartphone’s owner gives them.
When online, there are some obvious steps. Checking the terms and conditions to ensure that the data will not be shared with third parties is an easy step. Deceptively, many companies require you to click a box to opt out of these communications.
Companies such as Facebook have attracted controversy for how they use customer data, and it is worth being aware of the privacy policies of any company that has this kind of access.
As for preventing those who want involuntary access to your data, general cyber security preventions are a must.
A simple rule is, if in doubt, opt out – any company that asks for access to your data could theoretically misuse it or lose it to data theft.