Fight the Fatigue: Data Privacy Really Does Matter

May 5, 2020 | Privacy & Security

Do you have privacy fatigue? It’s the stress that comes from feeling you can’t protect your privacy online. 

Latest statistics say one in three Americans are experiencing privacy fatigue. More than half of respondents (56%) in a recent global privacy report said they feel it’s impossible to keep their information completely private online. Other research says most Americans feel a lack of control over the data that governments and companies collect about them. 

Compare our sense of impotence with the proficiency of the adversary: 

  • A ‘brute force’ attack on internet connected systems occurs every 39 seconds.
  • Worldwide payment card fraud losses are set to exceed $35 billion in 2023.
  • 2019 recorded the highest number of data breaches (with many still unreported), exposing over 15.1 billion records.

Are we battle weary? Absolutely.

But, as in any battle, if we keep our eye on the prize, we often find the energy to keep going. The prize in this case is our fundamental human right to privacy. Your information is yours, and others having access to it is not only invasive, it can be severely damaging. 

So, let’s fight some of our fatigue with facts. 

First, what are you trying to protect? 

Online, you’re trying to protect what’s known as your personally identifiable information (PII), which is any data that can be used to identify you. Typically, PII is your legal name, residential and email addresses, phone numbers, and Social Security number, but more recently PII has come to include your IP address, login IDs, social media posts, and digital images. Geolocation, biometric and behavioral data can also be PII

Every time you go online and use your PII (e.g. to buy or subscribe to something), you risk having your personal data correlated by data brokers or ad tech, stolen by hackers, or sold by the service operator you’re transacting with. Criminals want to steal your money or your identity or both, but it’s data brokers and ad tech that can do the most harm. Companies pay big money to find out what you’re searching and buying so they can try to influence it to their advantage. Data broking is a USD $200 billion, unregulated industry that’s harvesting, manipulating, even misrepresenting your data and selling it on a list for as little as $79. You won’t even know it’s happening. While some of this data aggregation can be positive (e.g. customizing offers and information to your needs), it can also be incredibly negative (e.g. influencing your political decisions or exposing a past you’d prefer to keep private). 

Second, what does privacy give us? 

Privacy and its value are highly personal but, generally, protecting our privacy means we can:

  • limit others’ control over us, to know about us and to cause us harm
  • better manage our professional and personal reputations 
  • put in place boundaries and encourage respect
  • maintain trust in relationships and interactions with others
  • protect our right to free speech and thought
  • pursue second chances for regaining our privacy
  • feel empowered that we’re in control of our life.

While more than 100 countries now have some form of privacy and data protection law, legal protections are struggling to keep pace with data related crime and surveillance. This activity often occurs regardless of any protection in place anyway. As individuals, we can’t just wait for governments and regulators to act quickly enough and with adequate resources for enforcement. Our only option is to pursue our own privacy controls.

Anonyome Labs envisions a world where personal data is secure and under the exclusive control of the individual; where people have the tools to create personalized identities that match the context and content they wish to share. To us, being private doesn’t mean opting out of online services or hiding from the world. We empower people to be able to determine what information they share, and how, when, where and with whom they share it. Find out how MySudo app is the best way to protect your privacy online.

Of course, there are those among us who don’t even realize there’s a digital privacy problem to solve. The 2019 Kaspersky study reports only two-fifths (41%) of consumers are more worried about their online privacy than their offline privacy, despite alarming news reports and statistics. Perhaps this is most worrying of all?

Want more? Work out what’s your privacy blind spot and get some ideas on how to beat privacy fatigue at home.  

 Photo by Virgyl Sowah on Unsplash

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