It's Data Privacy Day—the perennial event that many internet users may have never heard of, but have strong feelings and opinions about the very things that birthed it in the first place.
Originally created to help businesses learn about why online privacy matters, its reach has since extended to other public organizations, governments, communities, and families on a global scale—yes, even when they continue to say "I have nothing to hide!"
Many high-traffic websites have improved on the aspects of security and privacy these past few years, so it shouldn’t surprise you to see privacy features when you visit your account settings. You just have to make use of them.
Here are three simple, practical, and sensible steps you can take now, to achieve a more private—and secure—online life.
1. Check your browser’s privacy options
Your browser is your gateway to the Internet. Unfortunately, few of them have ideal privacy and security settings set by default, even if they’re present.
It is in your best interest then to go ahead and tinker with your browser’s settings, carefully making sure that options are set in a way that are acceptable to you, privacy-wise.
You can read about some popular browsers' privacy settings here:
- Google Chrome privacy settings
- Firefox privacy and security settings
- Microsoft Edge, browsing data, and privacy
- Safari privacy preferences
While you’re reviewing your settings, you may want to clear out your browser history, too, and review your extensions—you might actually find one or several there that you have already forgotten—and remove those you hardly, or never, used. Vulnerable or malicious add-ons can easily become a privacy and security risk.
Do a browser settings review on your mobile devices as well. You can learn more about them here:
Now, if you find that what’s in there by default lacks the privacy and security settings you hope for, it’s time to ditch that browser for a new one.
Thankfully, most (if not all) desktop browsers that made taking care of your privacy their business, too, have mobile versions. Start by looking up Firefox, Brave, DuckDuckGo, and even the Tor Browser on the Google Play and Apple App stores.
2. Review your social privacy settings
If you use a lot of different social media sites, choose one platform you’re most active on and start there.
(It’s Facebook, isn’t it?)
With privacy in mind, update settings of certain fields in your profile that you feel would less likely make you a target of identity theft. You might also want to limit the way other users of that platform can reach you, such as a total stranger who doesn’t have connections within your closest circle adding you as a friend. To learn more about your options, read Facebook's basic privacy settings and tools page.
Disable that feature wherein anyone can look you up using an email address or phone number tied to you. Lastly, if you have a friend or family member who likes tagging you on every photo they upload (even if you’re not on the photo), feel free to un-tag yourself. You won’t regret it.
3. Start sharing with caution
Sharing might be caring—not to mention, fun—but in some cases, that doesn’t really apply, especially in social media.
I think by now we’re quite familiar with the scenario of someone publicly sharing their vacation plans on social media only to find themselves a victim of robbery when they got back.
Yes, we should think twice before sharing such information. And not only that, we should also make it a habit to ask permission when sharing photos with other people in them, or stories that involve somebody else. This is not only polite, but this also demonstrates that you care about other people’s privacy, too. They are your friends and family after all.
Every day is data privacy day
Data Privacy Day may only be one day, but looking after our personal data and keeping it safe should be an everyday affair for every Internet user.
You have the tools; we have equipped you with the know-how. Improving your data privacy doesn't have to be rocket science.
So, let’s take a little bit of our busy time to review and make changes to those settings. These changes might be slight but are incredibly significant overall.
Remember, eyes open, and stay safe!