How to Protect Your Privacy as More Apps Harvest Your Data

Description: In the real world, your personal life is a private space. But in tech, your personal data is a ripe resource for businesses to harvest in their own interests.


Date:May 1. 2017

When it comes to data collection, services like and Uber are small fry compared with internet giants like Google and Facebook, which have a wealth of information about people. And then there are large data brokers like Acxiom, CoreLogic, Datalogix and ID Analytics, which collect, analyze and sell billions of details about consumers’ online activities for marketing purposes.

For consumers, giving up some data has become part of the trade-off of receiving compelling, personalized services. But that doesn’t mean you have to be caught by surprise. Here are some tips from privacy experts on protecting yourself from tricky data collection.  read rest of story

1.  Should we, as consumers have to give up personalized information to use a digital service?  Why or why not?

2.  How does one make sure that their personal data is being protected and is secure?


67 thoughts on “How to Protect Your Privacy as More Apps Harvest Your Data

  1. Brett Goods

    1. Should we, as consumers have to give up personalized information to use a digital service? Why or why not?
    I believe that this questions warrants a two-part answer. I personally believe that these apps and digital services are taking way more personal information then they should be. For an example, there is no reason that a “bright flashlight” app should be collecting personal information such as the user’s location or personal contacts. On the other hand, after downloading these digital services, most of the time the user’s smartphone will prompt the user to give permission to the application to access the user’s information. So to an extent, the consumer knows what they are sharing and also has the option to deny permission to the app to access their data. I believe that it becomes unethical when information is being taken and distributed without permission from the user.

    2. How does one make sure that their personal data is being protected and is secure?
    This article suggests a number of methods to ensure that personal data is protected and secure. The first of which is to read the companies privacy policy. This is because most companies will disclose their policy for collecting and distributing information. The second method is to research company business models to determine how the company makes a profit. If the company offers a free service, the chances are they are monetizing user data. The next method is to audit you apps and to disable any services you are no longer using, as they may be still leeching personal data. The article’s final suggestion is to “opt out” and delete your account and the application if you have lost trust in the company. Unfortunately, they will likely hold onto the data that has already been shared, even if your account has been deleted.

  2. Anji sanusi

    I don’t think we should have to give up all our personal information just so we can use a digital service. But then again, when we actually think about it, our information will be collected whether we know it or not. When buying cellphones, we give up some amount of information, when signing up for a fashion website, we disclose our information AND even give consent to companies to do whatever they think is legal (even though it might be unethical) with our information without knowing.
    Unfortunately, We can never make sure our personal data is being protected but we can definitely keep track by making sure there are no fishy activities going on. We must simply give companies the benefit of the doubt that they will act ethical by keeping their consumers interest at heart.

  3. Gage Cherriman

    No, we should not give up personal information to use a digital service. Personal information should remain as personal as possible and people should refrain from giving it out. If the digital service does not operate solely on personal information and instead uses it to learn how to market products to you it is in your best interest not to give it. While tailored marketing is helpful so long as you’re in the market for a product it is not necessary otherwise has you may spend money you do not have. if the service can be done without they information it is not necessary to obtain it from consumers.
    The easiest way to prevent personal information for being used against you is to abstain from giving it and not use the service. If you must use the service you should read through the privacy policy to get a better sense of the terms you are agreeing to despite how some of the legal speak may be confusing. If you are still concerned you may want to see how a company says they operate and read secondary on how they were found to operate within and with other companies. Sometimes companies may auto link between each other if you have accounts you frequent on different or sign up using another application so you should be aware of this and disable auto linking as much as possible.

  4. Franchesca Lee

    1. As a consumer, we should never give up our personal information to use a digital service, however, it’s not something we could control or get rid of. Once we have access to our phones and laptops, there will be a risk that our personal information will be leaked or sold by other companies or individuals. Some people might not know that there will be a chance that some companies can earn money by selling their personal data but they should know everything seems free on the internet that is actually not free of charge. I think it is fair to take the risk while enjoying the free stuffs online and especially it is necessary to use digital device in our daily life.

    2. From the article, it said that there are some ways to protect our own personal data while using the digital device. It said that people should read the privacy polices before using apps because the apps did tell us they would sell our information and people can choose not to use it. Also, using the research business models is the another way to protect your personal information. Rarely is the one that was mentioned from the article. It is a truly free product and it can provide the insight to let you know how would your data eventually be shared. Audit your apps and option out for good are the other ways to protect your own data. It is because once you are using something free, your data will have a chance to be sold or used by some companies.

  5. Tasha Silver

    1. Should we, as consumers have to give up personalized information to use a digital service? Why or why not?
    In short, yes but I feel like this can be a loaded question. Do I think it’s FAIR that digital services ASK for this kind of information? Yes and the majority of the time we WILLINGLY give them this information. Do you, as the consumer, have the right to refuse to give up this kind of information? Yes, you do. I feel like I may have an unpopular opinion in this “information selling” debate as in I think what it really does, as consumers and marketers are helping us. It helps the consumer as we are shown exactly what we want in places that we look and as marketers, it is easier to do this for the consumer. This question though asks specifically if it is ok to give personalized information to use a service that someone created and in my mind, your information is like currency. Services like Facebook are “free” in the consumer’s eyes, while in fact, you pay in the information you give them. So I think it is 100% fair for companies to ask for information, especially when there is no monetary value asked.
    2. How does one make sure that their personal data is being protected and is secure?
    This article suggests a couple ideas:
    1) Read the Privacy Policy – Everything that you disclose and what the company does with that kind of information is in this policy. Make sure you are personally comfortable with where this information goes before you blindly
    2) Research the Company Policy – Like the privacy policy, this can show what information is stored and where it is going.
    3) Audit your Apps – Go through the apps that you currently have, go into the settings and see what information they are taking from you
    4) Opt out for Good – delete your app, delete your account, delete everything about you on the web, move to a cabin in the woods and live off the land.

  6. Daniel Wilson

    I do not think that consumers should have to give up their personalized information to use an online service. I understand that companies that offer these free services need to earn an income somehow and that they market people’s information in order to turn a profit. I do not agree with how they do it though. Most companies should not just hide what they do in these long confusing terms of services pages. No one really has the time to read them. Even if you do as I have tried by the time you reach page 5 you still have no idea what they are saying half the time and you still have another 30 pages to go. It is especially bad when these services scan your e-mail inboxes or save your biometric data. I believe that is just plain intrusive and unethical. Now if these companies clearly stated that we will be tracking the web sites you visit, your personal preferences and using the info you give us to use our site. That’s fine if an informed person agrees to it.

    To protect your personal data online, there are two things that I think are important. The first is to not post or put anything online that you would not feel comfortable staying online forever. Many people can read what you have put online including future employers, so it wise to think before you post. The second is to read the privacy section of terms of use & service on content providers websites. It can be a real pain, but it is better than having all info out in the open being sold to anyone and everyone.

  7. Amber Christianson

    I don’t think it’s right for companies to hide things in small print, and then take information and data in exchange for consumers for using the app for free, but I do think it is in the companys best interest! the amount of data company’s get is very large! Once something gets put into cyber space though, it can never be 100% erased. I was always taught that if you didn’t want something put on the internet, just don’t put it on there! Companies kind of hide this information in there privacy agreements, so consumers have the chance to read it and see it, but it is a little inconvenient scrolling through everything to find. People are so used to putting their entire life on the computer, and I don’t think those things are going to change for quite the while. Free is never “free,” and if companies didn’t benefit from those free apps, they wouldn’t be there. I know I wouldn’t pay for facebook, or anything along those lines. It just isn’t worth it to me, so I am ok with these companies tracking a few things that I do! I am learning a second language on duolingo right now! And its free, but they do take information, and I am ok with that instead of paying a major amount of money to learn another language. I just go by the motto, if you don’t want your worst enemy to learn the things you are putting online, you had better stop because you don’t know who is getting that information. So much credit card fraud happens from people knowingly just putting all this information online for everyone to see! Its a free world, and anyone with a knowledge of technology can do as they please.

  8. Shelby Ohno

    This is a topic where I see both points of the argument. I feel that these companies are providing a service/product for free to us in exchange for our information. If a consumer wants to use a digital service, they should be required to give up a certain degree of information. Although, it should be more well known to the consumer that the information is going to be used and not hidden in a huge legal document stating the company’s true intentions. This way if the person does not want their information to be accessed they can choose to not use the app or pay for the app. In order to make sure that your personal data is being protected and is secure, firstly you should read the privacy policy on all apps and websites that you use and put information into. It is stated among all of the legal terminology when a company is using your information for statistics and selling it to other companies. Next, research the company’s business model. Free products are rarely free, if it is a for profit business offering a free product it is likely monetizing your data somehow. The online business model will most often tell you what kind of company you are about to subscribe to. Make sure that you know what apps are using what information, like contacts, linking to your twitter or other connected apps, and access to your photos. This is considered auditing your apps, when you remove and unused apps. Finally, opt out for good. Don’t just delete the app off of your phone or computer make sure to delete your entire account.

  9. Matthew Stark

    1. I currently believe that we should not have to give up our personal information to use
    digital services. Our personal information should be private and we should not allow any company or person access to our personal information to benefit themselves or to make a profit. Today our technology and privacy is changing and it is advancing is so many ways, it is hard to keep up. Most companies use personal information from your interests found in your personal information for marketing purposes so they can send you emails or letters for their products. Honestly, it is your own decision if you want to give out your personal information so make sure when give out your information you sign the privacy policy and read it carefully and pay close attention to what is being said and how they can use your personal information.
    2. To make sure our personal info is being protected, we must read the fine print and understand what the conditions are of this agreement. Today, personal information should be private and you have the right to protect it. In our world, right now technology and privacy is very scary as it seems that anybody can hack into anybody’s personal information or even steal their identity. That is why when you are giving out personal information be very careful who you give it too and why you are giving it to them. The best way to protect your personal information is to make sure you have a password set, a finger scanner or if you are advanced enough, have voice recognition or a retina scanner. I know these seems a little extreme for personal data but you can never be too sure who may try to steal your information.

  10. Audencio

    1. Should we, as consumers have to give up personalized information to use a digital service? Why or why not? I don’t think we should be forced too because it is our right to choose what we share and what we don’t share. There is too much capability out there for people to misuse information and more specifically personal information. I believe that these digital services can do a better job of prompting you in terms of their privacy policies. I am guilty of using many applications without going over the complete privacy details but in many incidents you don’t have an option but to agree and I believe this is where the true issue begins. If they were truly interested in improving their services they would promote a better approach such as surveys. Now I know many people don’t take the time to do surveys but if there was a small incentive like privacy concerns included in these surveys more people might be inclined to take them in order to secure their own personalized information. It doesn’t allow the internet to be as secure if we are forced to be sharing our personalized information this works against us because now that they have received this information at no cost at all they are now free to charge for all your information without any repercussion or without your knowledge.

    2. How does one make sure that their personal data is being protected and is secure?

    Being aware of all the website you use and maintain a recognizable device or home device that can always be used as a default incase any suspicious activities occur on any of your accounts you use such as banking, email etc. I would suggest to read the terms and conditions on each website and you agree to allow access. Also, I would suggest that you trust the networks your using such as cellphone service, public wifi and your home wifi.

  11. Daniel Drew

    1. I believe that as a consumer we should not have to give up any of our personal information to use a digital service, like, at all, but I also think that we have no other choice as this is what makes these digital services very big today, with companies like Facebook and Instagram and Snap chat. All of these websites require you to share some personal info, and that it may be shared (which like it said in the article, the fact that it can be shared with third parties is stated in the privacy section), but not many of us choose to read the terms & agreements when we sign up for a program, which is wrong for me I feel like. For me, I believe it would be a better option to put like the privacy section closer to the top or even before you sign up for a program, have like an explanation as to what you might be signing up for, and also to inform the consumer to at least read the privacy section of the terms & agreements.

    2. To make sure that your personal data is secure and protected, just be careful as to who you might be sharing your personal data with, and whether or not you can actually trust the service or website or whoever with this information. If so try not to share too much data, as if at any point your data ends up getting stolen, you will not be very happen and that information will most likely be made public to. Just be very careful when you are on the web and sharing your data with others.

  12. patrick kwarteng

    The revelations that have been made in this article can be called dicey or startling. People who control these apps have so much power in their hands and information they gather may end up in the hands of criminal organizations who may be looking to exploit the masses. If we don’t excise precaution, it may get completely out of control. It is really scary when you realize information about your self is being traded out to entities unknown to you. Imaging information about men and women serving in the various military deployments can be sold to terrorist. This may end up with huge catastrophe. On the other hand, if information about a person is going to be sold to gain profits. Like in the case of selling information regarding a person’s preferences in clothing, cosmetics, and taste in food etc. I believe things of this nature may not be so harmful and an individual may benefit from the sale of their information. For instance if my information is being sold out there, I should benefit from the profit made. I doubt we will find a lot of people to complain about this. Finally. I think laws should be enacted to help keep these data collectors in place to deter them from selling off information that may end up in the wrong hands.

  13. Abdulaziz Sani

    I have to admit that even though it is quite frightening to agree to, humans should be ready to give up some sort of privacy to enjoy the full benefits of all the technological materials the tech industry has to offer; However, if I must be as completely honest as I want to be, which I carefully have to do to avoid contradicting my earlier statement, the amount of privacy we as humans have had to give up to keep up with the worlds technological advancements is quite outrageous; regardless of how useful technology has been. In my opinion even though it is only fair to have ones private life is a little bit invaded, as it serves as an aid to the market which we so very frequently consume from, it is also fair that one uses his/her new smartphone to log onto one of the trending social media apps without the fear or anxiety that they are being monitored, as this might have some sort of psychological effects on a person.
    It sounds fairly harmful at first, however the more though given to it, the frightening it becomes; and who knows what effects this might have on the technological industry and the world at large in the future: companies might lose sales, the internet might be deemed as a danger to the society etc. As a result I believe even though it is only fair to the companies that supply us with the technological materials that have been so benefiting to the world, it is only fair to the consumers that they may use these materials without the fear that their private lives are no longer safe.

  14. Falon Wagner

    1. Should we, as consumers have to give up personalized information to use a digital service? Why or why not?

    I think all consumers would like to have their personal information kept private while being free to use any digital service. I just do not think that is a likely reality unless consumers are willing to give something up. The reason companies have “free” apps is because they are benefiting from them. If the company was not able to gain our information from research they would likely stop putting the resources and money into keeping the app up-to-date and meeting the consumers needs. Companies would likely begin charging for the apps, which for most consumers would be an unpleasant alternative. Speaking for myself, I know an app has to provide me something that has much value to me before I would be willing to pay for it. So, while it would be ideal if our personal information stayed protected, I think many of the benefits digital service user have today would soon go away.

    2. How does one make sure that their personal data is being protected and is secure?

    From reading the article, it appears some of the best and only ways to keep your data safe is to read to Terms of Agreement when downloading an app or using a website and not use digital services that do not have privacy agreements. Usually consumers skim over Terms of Agreement as they are likely riddled with legal jargon, but it is important to read, especially the section on privacy. This is where an individual can find out what their data will be used for. If the privacy agreement allows the company to use personal data, it is best for us to not download that app. There are sometimes, not-fo-profit or not-for-data-colleciton apps that can be downloaded. These are always a safe bet to download.


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