Data has become the most valuable commodity in the world, just as oil was a century ago – and the concerns are similar, with most of the world’s data in the hands of a few giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.
NordVPN examines the issue and offers advice for users who want to keep their personal information private:
As their reach expands and profits rise – their collective profit was over $25-billion in the first quarter of 2017- experts are calling for the need to break up their dominance or to create another platform that would provide a more private method of browsing.
For example, German companies are planning to curb the data industry dominance by creating a joint platform that will allow customers to determine whether and how their personal data can be used by third parties.
In the meantime, the data dominance by industry giants results in personal users’ data being tracked, collected and sold to third parties.
For instance, Facebook knows a user’s friends, all interactions, sites visited (if they have a Facebook page), purchases, the devices a person uses to access Facebook, and much more.
Google collects a users’ name, email address, telephone number, credit card (if entered), their interaction with other websites, the device used, search queries and so on. Google also stores information in a local browser as “cookies”.
When faced with such data control by a few large companies, people still have some power in their own hands to protect their privacy than they often can imagine.
There are some simple steps for everyone to take that would significantly reduce intrusive behavior by Internet companies and protect one’s privacy.
Some simple rules include:
Facebook. Use Facebook’s Download Your Information tool to find out what kind of personal information is collected. Make sure to visit privacy settings and select who can see which information. And be careful what kind of information you share with Facebook. Some people, for example, choose not to use their real names, location and other personal data.
Google. The first step is to use Google’s Privacy Checkup to see how much information you might be voluntarily sharing. Secondly, see how private are your apps. Google’s Privacy Policy actually allows to turn off tracking, voice searches, and other features, to view and edit one’s preferences or to adjust one’s public profile. Also, make sure you use two-step verification.
Overall Internet privacy. VPN (virtual private network) is the most common and secure tool used to stay private online. A VPN encrypts data between a user’s computer and VPN server and routes it through a secure tunnel, so all online activity becomes invisible to trackers, data collectors and any kinds of data spies. For example, only a VPN can help bypass new increased ISP data collection in the US, as well as the potential removal of net neutrality.