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World Data Privacy Day 2020

7 Tips To Keep Your Personal Information Safe As World Data Privacy Day Approaches

Millions of people across the globe are unaware of how their personal information is being used online, and that’s where World Data Privacy Day comes in.

Data Privacy Day, Jan. 28, is an international effort to help individuals and businesses safeguard data, respect privacy and enable trust, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance.

The University of Michigan is hosting a day-long event featuring New York Times editor Kathleen Kingsbury at the Privacy@Michigan symposium Jan. 28. Kingsbury is editor of the New York Times’ Privacy Project, which was created to explore and debate how technology and cultural norms impact our conceptions and expectations when it comes to privacy.

“The Privacy Project is perhaps the longest ongoing journalistic exploration of privacy issues and challenges that has been written,” said Sol Bermann, chief information security officer and executive director of information assurance at UM. “Bringing in the editor that is coordinating the series is a wonderful opportunity for the UM community and beyond to get under the hood of the whats, whys and challenges in reporting on this multifaceted topic.”

The event, which is free to the public, is designed to spark conversation and answer practical questions about how we can control access to our private information. Privacy@Michigan includes a privacy fair with a clinic where students can help attendees address common privacy questions and technical settings. Participants are invited to express their thoughts on privacy in six words and see what others have shared as part of the UM Privacy Card Project.

To celebrate the World Data Privacy Day, Florian Schaub, assistant professor in the UM School of Information and College of Engineering, has created seven tips for consumers who want to lock down their data.

1. Check the privacy policy. Find the privacy link at the bottom of a company’s website and check (1) Are they using data for things you’re not OK with? And (2) Are they sharing data for advertising or marketing?

2. Opt out. You can often opt out of having your data used and shared for advertising and marketing. Find the links in the privacy policy or privacy settings.

3. Check privacy settings. Signed up for a new service? Downloaded an app or unboxed a new gadget? Go through the privacy settings and disable what you’re not comfortable with. Also, make sure privacy protections are on.

4. Use tracker blockers. Install browser extensions like Ghostery or Privacy Badger, which will count and block online tools that track your behavior on websites.

5. Freeze your credit. Major credit report companies are required to freeze your credit for free — which can keep you safer from identity theft.

6. Ask why/refuse. When someone asks for your phone number or the last four digits of your Social Security number, ask why they need it. If they don’t have an answer, refuse.

7. Fake it/be smart. Consider setting up email accounts you only use for online shopping, providing fake information and being proactive and savvy about keeping optional data private.

Other tips from Schaub and Bermann include:

  • Choose your own privacy settings instead of accepting the default ones
  • Ask to be put on do-not-call and do-not-mail lists when possible
  • Consider using private web browsers or browser settings
  • Be careful what you share online, especially in social media
  • Turn off/restrict apps and services like location data and bluetooth when you are not using them
  • Free is not free. Your data is currency, so be aware of that when you sign up for “free” games, apps or services.―M Live
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