Personal Data and Why You Should Be More Careful

I just had a baby and received a letter from some department in my county saying that they had been notified of my birth and wanted to offer their services.

No, I don’t want your services, was my first thought. The second was ‘how do I get myself off this communication directory?’ but then I realized it would be nearly impossible because it’s public record.

I also received an email the other day letting me know that my mom’s information had been involved in some company’s data breach years ago. She uses my email which is why I was notified of something like this… But the point is that I’m tired of companies treating data breaches so lightly…

Oh, I’m sorry but we let people have access to our database because our passwords weren’t strong enough or we skimped out on our security systems and they were not as useful as they could have been. We saved some money but there’s a possibility someone out there has your social security number, address, dog’s name, date you last missed your period, favorite color, etc. No big deal. We sent you this letter so all is good with us, right?! 

No, all is not good, you morons. You should send me mail like that in a neon-colored envelope with tons of gift certificates inside and pleas for me to not leave. I ought to cancel my accounts with you and report you but wait… I need that account because it’s my mortgage and I can’t report you because there is no higher power looking out for consumers to ensure their information has to be kept safe.

We had the GDPR from Europe but no one in the US gives a damn about that either. The founder of Facebook himself said he was only going to protect the info of Europeans and not Americans.

Read for yourselves: Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about users.

So what options does that leave the rest of us Americans?

It means we should be careful. As careful as possible. Do not voluntarily give out your info (social security number, location on your phone, occupation on forms, birthday, phone numbers, etc.) unless it’s absolutely required for something like a loan. Opt out of anything and everything you can such as marketing or research. And constantly ask about how your information is being used, how it can be limited and what you can do to prevent it from getting in the wrong hands.

Doctor’s offices are the worst place to have a data breach and some employees have even been sued for selling patient info. Medical data is super expensive and very appealing to criminals these days but no one hesitates to fill out those forms at their clinic and to sign away their rights.

There’s too much to discuss in one article but I felt the need to share the bare minimum here because the fact that no one is bringing more attention to data breaches and personal data being stolen by companies like Facebook makes me realize that America wants people to assume that you can no longer protect your data and should just accept when it is abused or shared. But I refuse to give up the fight that easily. And you should, too. It’s not just your info but the info of your kids and spouse as well.

And step one can be to get off Facebook. They have thousands of pages’ worth of your information from the way you flirt to the books you like, the type of people you follow, the times you login online, the things you like to buy, what your beliefs and food preferences are and just day to day factoids based on your photos and wall and likes. If someone had all that at their fingertips and could sell it, I would be upset. But instead of being upset I just don’t get involved with Facebook and refuse to let my kids’ pictures on there either.

Whatever you choose, just know that America is abusing its power and that’s why Europe even developed the GDPR to protect its people. If America cared it would develop similar rules but it doesn’t. Everyone from the government to big company moguls love how easy it is to get your info so they can use it for their own benefits and sometimes even against you…credit scores, prices you’re willing to pay for insurance, relationship status, etc.

Don’t be one of the people that accepts this as the norm. Protect yourself by protecting your information!

BTW:

Any site that says ‘by continuing to use our site you agree to our cookies and privacy policy’ is copping out on their responsibilities to be completely transparent with you. I usually navigate out of these sites when I see blanket statements like this.

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