Monday, May 6, 2013

Is that my picture? A Closer Look to Online Privacy

Our privacy is not what it used to be. I remember back in the day when we were so careful about the things we’d share online; now it’s hard to keep our information safeguarded.
The huge amounts of data provided every day by online users, the tools to mine these data and the eagerness for companies to buy/sell online data, have changed the way users interact with the internet and the way companies try to lure online users to share as much as they can about their customer’s lives [1].
Let’s take a look at how the Digital Analytics Association encourages digital analysts to provide privacy, transparency, control, education and accountability.

Digital Analytics Data Protection  

The Digital Analytics Association (DAA) defines in its code of ethics, five points to guarantee that the Digital Analyst will provide a great job at protecting the data [2].


The analyst agrees to hold consumer data in the highest regard and will do everything in his/her power to keep personally identifiable consumer data safe, secure and private.


The analyst agrees to encourage full disclosure of clients/employer consumer data collection practices and to encourage communication of how that data will be used in clear and understandable language. It’s important to keep the company’s privacy policy up-to-date, just so the analyst can provide a clear and truthful reflection of the data collection.

Consumer Control

The analyst agrees to inform and empower consumers to opt out of his/her clients/employer data collection practices and to document ways to do this.  
The consumer control option gives the consumers the ability to opt out, making sure that they are removed from the data collection when requested.


The analyst agrees to educate his/her clients/employer about the types of data collected, and the potential risks to consumers associated with those data.
This one encourages analysts to inform peers of the commitment to data privacy and the education of senior management, of current data collection capabilities, data definitions, and potential data risks.


The digital analyst agrees to act as a steward of customer data and to uphold the consumers’ right to privacy as governed by my clients/employer and applicable laws and regulations.
This one makes the analyst accountable for use and misuse of the data collected. It encourages the analyst to comply with all practices governing ethical use of consumer data.
While the analytics' world serves the purpose to tailor data based on a given company needs, it can also provide nightmares to online users if this information is not safe.

A Living Nightmare

In 2012, hackers gained access to Senior writer Mat Honan’s “complete digital life in the span of an hour” [3]. Everything happened because of a tool, widely used by hackers, called social engineering [4]. The hackers were able to gained access to his Gmail, Twitter and Apple accounts; in the process, his mobile devices were wiped out losing all of Mat’s documents, messages, emails and pictures.
Stories like Mat’s are very common nowadays. I’m terrified every time my friends share status in Facebook and their profile has been set to public. I also get concerned when my family members tell me that they haven’t changed their passwords in years.
We are exposed to online data every day. It’s our duty to prevent hacker attacks by following simple rules like frequently changing passwords, making sure our online profiles for the different social media networks [5] is not set to public, clearing web browser cookies, and staying away from harmful websites.

The Bottom Line

Digital analytics can be intimidating to online users because of the tactics and tools used to mine, extract, transform and load the data collected. It can also be intimidating because errors in the process and the lack of privacy from different companies could expose holes that can be exploited by hackers.  
Digital analytics provide awesome tools to optimize the efforts to drive business results. It’s our responsibility as online users, to keep our personal information away from hackers to avoid headaches. It’s also the data company’s responsibility to make sure our data is kept safe.

What are some of the things you do to keep your personal information secured?


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