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The Myth of Online Privacy: Risks, Dangers and Solutions

MUO 11/14/2022 Gabriela Vatu
© Provided by MUO

Privacy these days means something completely different than it did even a decade ago. And the only things we have to blame for this are the internet and ourselves.

In the age of the internet, we're only as "private" as the tools we use allow us to be, which isn't much. While you rejoice in using a lot of free tools, know that you're actually paying with data.

The Case of the Missing Privacy

Data is the new currency now and we’re all “giving it away” by blindly accepting all those terms and conditions on a ton of services we use day in and day out. If you deep dive into the privacy policies of these companies, you’ll immediately notice that your data is sold to various third parties.

Of course, none of your data is sold with your name on it. You're nothing but a number to them. This is for "anonymity" purposes, on some level, but it also just makes things easier as they sell your data to marketers so you get targeted with relevant ads.

The biggest culprits are all those companies you interact with all day. Sure, Google has a ton of apps you absolutely love, but at the end of the day they make most of their revenue from advertising.

Meta's Facebook and Instagram are great when you're bored, right? But they pick up a ton of information about your browsing habits, what you like, what you don't like, what you stop to watch, what you scroll by, and so on.

Any site you visit plants a cookie on your browser and every click you make gets logged somewhere.

How Your Data Is Used and Misused

Let's say that you know what you sign up for when you use one of these companies, allowing them to pile all this data together so you can get a better experience. This information is used to serve you ads you'll find interesting. This is beneficial for companies, but it's also beneficial to you on some level, as you may discover things you are interested in rather than random products you'd never look twice at.

The problem is that scammers can use the same data.

Scammers will find out who you are, what you like, what you're most likely to click on, and send you a phishing email, for instance. Once you click on that, they gain access to even more of your data. They can steal your identity, siphon money out of your bank account, and more.

But how do scammers get your data? Well, some data brokers sell it to them willingly and knowingly. Of course, this isn't the case for all of them, but there have been lawsuits regarding this particular issue in the US.

Working with data is a lucrative business, so there are tons of these data brokers. Some of these companies are massive, like Google, while others are much smaller. They all aggregate information from various sources, process it, cleanse it, and analyze it before selling it further.

The Consequences of Losing Our Privacy

One of the biggest problems is that not all companies use the same security protocols to secure your information. In case of a data breach, all your information can get stolen.

The cybersec incidents you hear about most often affect various services and you know exactly that hackers may have your name, email address, and an encrypted password, for instance.

When data brokers get hacked, things get even more complicated because of all that information they have on you. Even though it may all be anonymous, without it being attached to your name, there's proof that it can all be used to re-identify you.

That's when you can become the victim of identity theft, can get scammed, or stalked online.

There's also the problem of where and how your data is used. We've read about numerous instances where collected information was used by insurance companies to raise rates. There are also concerns that health insurance companies could use information from data brokers to increase fees, deny coverage, and so on.

How to Solve the Problem

One of the best solutions to upkeep your privacy in this situation is to ask data brokers to remove your information from their servers. As you can imagine, this can take forever if you do it yourself, and it's almost certain that you'll miss at least a few of them.

If you use Incogni, however, they can do the legwork for you, reaching out to all data brokers and taking down your information. They leverage GDPR, CCPA, and other privacy laws on your behalf.

They'll update you weekly of their progress and then, once the goal has been achieved, will continue to request these companies remove any new information they acquire on you. Usually, it takes somewhere between 30 and 45 days for data brokers to comply with the demands, as they try to milk your information for as long as possible.

If you want to subscribe to Incogni, we have a discount code for you as part of the company's Black Friday campaign. Use INCOGNI60 before December 4th, 2022, and you'll get 60% off the 1-year subscription plan. That's a fabulous deal!

Take Back Your Privacy

Online privacy is something we all desire. While we can control what we share ourselves, there's little that can be done to limit what metadata is collected about you. Subscribing to Incogni is a step in the right direction to reclaim that data and demand your privacy back.

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