The privacy debate has generated big names like facebook and Google has top names. But the discussion has also features the effect of unseen data brokers behind the scenes. Below are things to consider in reference to the data privacy day. Did you actual figure out that January is usually the data privacy day in the United States, Canada and the European Union?
The intention is to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the privacy of personal information apart individual users of things like social networking, but also among business organizations and corporations that collect, retain and access information about their client’s customers and users. In recent year facebook, Google, Microsoft and yahoo have drawn attention among privacy advocates and regulators. But there is also another category of companies out there collecting, processing and distributing personal information about individuals all the time. Their main target is the social networking platform for more information about individuals’ behaviors, lifestyle interests and activities. The 2010 man of the year facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg once famously declared that privacy is not a ‘social norm’ this idea has consistently borne out that idea in the online world collecting increasing amounts of information about individuals in pretense to privacy policies longer than the U.S constitution. This is due to users agreeing to legally have their information gathered and tracked so as they can continue to use the accounts and services. User can agree to be tracked or avoid such situations. This method of data collection and profiling is drawing increasingly scrutiny not just from consumers and privacy advocates but governments and everyday people. European union passed a law proposing new data protection that enshrines a right to be forgotten for individuals .The U.S federal trade commission has forced facebook to toe the line on sharing user information with a third party.


Microsoft has released a survey of 5000 people examining how they approach their online profiles and reputations.91 percent of respondents have taken action to manage their overall online profiles at one point or another. The rest feel that they are in control of their online reputations.44% indicate that they are actively considering a potential long term consequence of online actions. A 56% do not consider any consequence from online activity. Surprising a 14% believe that they have been negatively impacted by the online activities of others. Most jobs are now vetted by checking their social media postings. Particularly the face book platform and also twitter flipping ugly minivan s is probably a fast way of losing a job as a delivery precaution is that discovery process for civil and criminal cases treat social networking posts just like any other communication.


In a bid to protect online user privacy the FCT in December 2010 fielded a do not track proposal. Consumers were now able to protect their online data and prevent them from being tracked by online advertisers. Web browsers backed their support on this proposal but there were however loopholes in the implementation. The process was not automatic since the policies depended on support from sites and services. There was however no regulatory condition that required sites to support the proposal. This therefore meant that even if consumers enabled the feature on their browsers the privacy was not fully guaranteed. High profile companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook can attract negative publicity if they fail to support a proposal like the do-not-track technology. This could negatively impact user ship and even the revenues earned from online advertisements.FTC commissioner Julie Brill during the Data Privacy Day at George Washington University Law school noted a different side of the whole online industry; that of low profile data brokers. These low profile data brokers scrap and collect information from internet users then they sell it to other companies. Brill outlined that FTC would look into operations of these data brokers since information that they were collecting was hidden and unverified .Internet users had no control over what the brokers collected about them. This meant that there was no way of reviewing or correcting the data; they would not even know that information about them has been collected. This could ultimately impacts people’s lives on the negative .An example is when the wrong credit information has been disseminated. This could result in bad credit scores, theft or even fraud. In her remarks Brill outlined that analysts were working on identifying certain social behavior that could be used to show whether a person is a trustworthy employee or if they are likely to pay a loan. She further admitted that that FTC had no record of who the data brokers were. The FTC is expected to release its final report early next year. The report outlined policy principles and implementation on transparency that enabled consumers to be in control of their personal data. These recommendations will be non binding since FTC lack enforcement powers .This is unless they get assistance from Congress. The only policy the FTC can work with is the Fair Credit Act which will only be for Credit Reporting Agencies(CRAs).The final report on the policies is however expected to be close to EU’s proposed “right to be forgotten” which has also received varied criticism.

Think before you post

About two years ago during an interview at CNBC the current Google chairman Eric Schmidt pointed out that if somebody was doing something that they would not want anyone to know then they should not have been doing it in the first place. We cannot control what goes around the internet about us but we can control what we do. Rule of the thumb when it comes to social media is think before you post .It does not matter whether it is in the private or public account..Before posting that candid photo or off the record remark think of the implication it would have if it could come up years later. Somehow it will affect you.

When it goes beyond you

Ideally there are three kinds of social media posts that could have an impact on somebody’s reputation: Items posted by a user for everyone to see Items posted by a user for selected group Items about a user posted by a third party The last case is important since it is beyond control of the user. Similarly we really have no control over what a person might say about us on social media. Worth noting is that people have a tendency to do or say things that they can attempt in public. These kinds of insensitive or untrue comments could come up later and negatively affect us in real life. A day might come when negative posts about an individual could contribute to a bad credit score. To avoid this possibility the market leaders like Google and Microsoft are urging users to be more proactive and keep track of what is said about them online. This could include searching their names on different search engines to see what comes up. Google further recommends you automate theses searches with a Google Alert. You must however have a Google account and comply with Google policies. A more practical way for protecting your online privacy is to separate your professional and personal lives. You can have two accounts where one is open to everyone and a separate one where you screen names ,use privacy control tools to keep it under tighter control.(Bear in mind nothing is truly private on the internet).Remember not to link the two accounts otherwise the privacy attempt will be in vain.

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