Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Internet of Things’? here’s a chance that you are using it every single day! The IoT describes the network of physical ‘things’ that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies so they can connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet. This rise of connected devices is a double-edged sword of connectivity/convenience versus privacy concerns.
The Evolving Landscape of Data Collection
The IoT was ‘born’ in 2008-2009, which was the point in time when there were more ‘things’ connected to the internet than people. By 2026, there will be more than 26 billion linked devices on the planet – this includes items connected to vehicles, home automation, wearable tracking technology, and appliances with remote monitoring capabilities.
Our devices are constantly collecting vast quantities of data about our daily activities and habits – even down to consumption rate and location. Businesses have a hefty appetite for this valuable consumer data – it helps them personalize marketing campaigns, improve products, and generate predictive analytics. This is handy in some ways but risky in other ways!
Why Data Privacy Matters More Than Ever
We might think that it doesn’t really matter if our personal data is compromised, or we might just assume that companies always protect our data. There are significant personal and societal implications of compromised data – and it pays to be aware of them.
Common hassles like password changes, two-factor authentication, and having to cancel bank cards are relatively painless, but severe breaches such as identity theft, loss of significant amounts of money, loss of client data, and legal repercussions can be truly devastating. You can help protect yourself by never sharing accounts, maintaining strong passwords changing them often, and closely watching bank transactions.
Common Misconceptions About Data Privacy
We’re living in a connected age, and people are heavily attached to carrying a small computer with them wherever they go – their smartphone! Nowadays, smartphones have evolved to serve purposes far beyond their initial design of facilitating calls and messages. These devices have metamorphosed into multifunctional tools, with access to a selection of online games as a prominent feature.
Our phones are a portal to everything that’s important to us, so don’t forget to set up face recognition and a very secure and long passcode (make sure you cover the phone screen when logging in with your passcode). It’s also worth setting up advanced data protection if your phone offers this feature.
Empowering Yourself: Steps to Protect Your Data
Although two-factor authentication can be a pain sometimes (we’ve all been there!), it is the best way to enhance your online security. It basically sets up a two-tiered login system – first, you enter your password, and then you confirm your identity via a biometric criterion or a code delivered to another device. Create strong passwords by combining uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers, a special character, and at least 8 characters.
Alternatively, you can rely on a password generator for this purpose. Beware of using public Wi-Fi. Scammers love to sneak malicious software into your device. They’ll try to trick you into filling out a phishing form or convince you to download an app that compromises your device security.
Companies and Their Role in Data Privacy
Many businesses collect consumer data, claiming that they use it to improve customer experiences and marketing strategies. Unfortunately, companies can also sell our data for revenue. Companies that are serious about protecting the data of their clients will encrypt sensitive information sent over public networks (like the internet) and encrypt sensitive information that is stored on your computer network, laptops, or portable storage devices. Ideally, they will also perform regular audits of endpoints to discover threats and security issues.
Global Data Privacy Laws and Regulations
Thankfully, there are data protection regulations in place to protect us as consumers. Two well-known ones are The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which provides data protection and privacy for EU residents. The CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) is a US state law that protects the data and privacy rights of Californian residents.
In this world where data is the most valuable resource, we need new regulations to protect our data. Global compliance regulations uphold the rights of consumers to data privacy and consent. More governing bodies will implement privacy and consent regulations, and there will be heftier repercussions for noncompliance.
The Future of Data Privacy in the Connected World
We’re walking a delicate tightrope between data privacy and having more convenience in our lives. As AI and machine learning continue to rapidly grow and improve, this has significant effects on data analytics, as the sheer volume of data able to be analyzed and used increases exponentially. As AI technology progresses, it raises ethical inquiries regarding the utilization of personal information and the possibility of bias in AI systems. On the other hand, this will hopefully allow for new innovations and tools on the horizon for better data protection and security.
In general, Consumers are not solely focused on safeguarding their data; they desire increased authority over who can access their personal information and how businesses ultimately employ it. It is vital to stay informed about the latest best practices for our devices and ‘things’, and that we are proactive about protecting our personal information.