5 Reasons You Should Care About Your Digital Privacy

There was a time when we used file cabinets to store our documents. When we had photo albums full of memories. The only way to get a hold of someone's personal files was to break into their home. Now, everything we store is digital. It's easy, convenient and searchable. This convenience leaves your digital data accessible to hackers ready to be stolen without you knowing. Here are 5 reasons why you should care about your digital privacy.

1. Your Digital Data Is Not Secure

It's no secret that hackers can access personal data like last name, date of birth, and even social security numbers. Stories are constantly on the news about data breaches and hack attacks. Experts say your personal data is not secure on health insurance exchanges.

Personal data protection “wasn’t integrated into the process,” said Michael Ebert, an expert on health care and data security at audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG in Philadelphia. “They didn’t bake it in. They tried to bolt it on.” - shrm.org

Photos and videos on on popular services are accessible to hackers. Many celebrity nude photos have been leaked on services like iCloud. Millions of snapchat accounts have been hacked leaving usernames and passwords available for download to the public. Even the FBI suggested that users need to encrypt their data to protect themselves from hackers.

2. Your Online Communication Isn't As Secure As You Think

If you like to communicate online through video call or chat, you're probably familiar with services like ooVoo and Skype. Are they really secure? Or can someone snoop in on your whole conversation? According to ooVoo, they do not encrypt communication.

ooVoo audio and video is not encrypted. We are not HIPPA compliant.

Currently we don’t have any plans to encrypt the audio and video since the encryption would increase the required CPU usage and bandwidth consumption. This would cause a reduction in video and audio quality.

Even though Skype claims they use encryption, your personal information is kept for as long as necessary which is clearly stated in their privacy policy.

Skype will retain your information for as long as is necessary to: (1) fulfill any of the Purposes (as defined in article 2 of this Privacy Policy) or (2) comply with applicable legislation, regulatory requests and relevant orders from competent courts.

Skype may also use automated scanning of your Instant Messages and SMS to check for spam, fraud, or phishing links. If your messages can be scanned automatically, what makes you so sure someone can't check them manually?

Read: Think your Skype messages get end-to-end encryption? Think again

3. Your Social Networks Aren't Truly Private

Nearly all of us use or at least heard of social networks like Facebook. But did you know that Facebook tracks your every move without your consent? Even better, Facebook saves everything you type even if you delete it before posting. All of those times you hit backspace and changed your mind about sending that message or posting that comment, Facebook has it saved somewhere. Facebook also keeps a log of everything and everyone you searched for. You can clearly check it out yourself in your history log. Sure, you can clear the log but you're only preventing yourself from seeing it.

The Onion posted a parody video with a lot of truth in it about how Facebook "Is Truly A Dream Come True For The CIA".

After years of secretly monitoring the public, we were astounded so many people would willingly publicize where they live, their religious and political views, an alphabetized list of all their friends, personal emails addresses, phone numbers, hundreds of photos of themselves, and even status updates about what they were doing moment to moment. It is truly a dream come true for the CIA.

4. Your Location Is Not Private

If you're one of the billions that uses Google, chances are that you have a Google account. Did you know that Google Maps has been tracking your every move? Unless you manually turn off the feature in your account settings, you are giving Google permission to check and mark your location anytime. Don't believe it? Check it out for yourself here. Google Location History settings states:

Google will regularly obtain location data from all devices associated with this account, including when you aren't using a specific Google product.

Uber, a popular app for finding a cab near you, previously tracked Friday and Saturday nights locations of people who went somewhere other than home. Read more about it in the NY Times article: We Can’t Trust Uber.

On January 30, 2015, Facebook updated their Terms and Policies in a language that is 'easier to understand' stating that they will be tracking your location unless you disable it.

5. It's All In The Terms And Conditions

Do you really read the lengthy terms and conditions of the services you're using? With all of that confusing legal talk, who would even want to? We live busy lives and are eager to start using a new service as soon as possible. That fine print can state that your personal information can be sold and shared with third parties.

Watch a good documentary on this topic, Terms and Conditions May Apply.

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