Trust Your Data, And Who Has It

By Matt Tyrer

Trust. It is probably one of the most important elements of any relationship. Be it business, romantic, platonic, or between a pilot and his wookie, trust is the cornerstone of these engagements. Data. Probably one of the most important things about you right now, be it your Social Security number, date of birth, bank account, passwords, or other identifiable information that is your data. Now put those two together and we have the current crisis of faith.

Your data is out there, everywhere really, when you think about it. Before the topics of “Privacy by Design” and overall “data privacy” really came to the forefront, we wantonly put our data out there. We innocently didn’t know or believe that harm would come from agreeing to all the things we agreed to, just to access a website, or a video, or a news article, or one of the million apps out there. Looking back, were we ever foolish. I know I would have done things differently or at least been more cautious understanding things as I do today.

Would you do the same?

Data has value. Your data, for example, can be sold for advertisers to target, hackers to compromise, or other third parties to use for research or perhaps less malign intents. So, who (if anyone), do you trust with that information? How can you guard and protect it from those you don’ttrust having it? These are difficult questions to answer as the game board keeps changing. Globally, regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), to name a few, are being introduced or are already on the books to help with that data protection. The rules of the game are changing, but if you look at the news there are still many that aren’t necessarily abiding by those rules. Telco is selling their users’ data. There is the Cambridge Analytica debacle. Data breaches at Google, Marriott, Quora and many others just reinforce the need to take our data privacy seriously.

So what can we do? 

  • Frequently review the privacy settings we have for the various tools we use. Don’t take it for granted! Many apps reset their privacy configs following an update, which may leave you exposed if you don’t go back and check on them. 
  • Be aware of what info you are giving away! Does that site really need our postal/zip code or birth date for us to download its promised content? 
  • Are the companies you partner with just as diligent in their handling of data as you would be with your own? Do you trust that company ABC will respect the privacy of your clients as much as you do?

The game has changed, and the time for us to question the player(s) is now. Make sure you know and understand the rules of engagement before signing on the dotted line. Your data and your clients’ data has value and you should be sure you are treating it with the same care you would any precious cargo.

So this #Data Privacy Week, check your apps and settings, and make sure you check your own policies on how you handle your customers’ data and how others manage yours.