Your data is a precious thing. It is who you are. It is the story of your life. And a lot of the time it can tell you more about who you are than your closest friends or family can.
A quick Google search tells us that data is: facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis. But what does that mean? Who is referencing or analysing the data?
Data collecting, in and of itself, is a useful tool. However, misuse of that data is not acceptable. Let’s face it, consent documents and policies are long and boring, and they give the illusion of being written in a language concocted for the enjoyment of lawyers from the Medieval times – even when they’re written in plain English. BUT they’re there for a reason, and they are important to understand – because where and how your data is being used is important. So, how do you know what you’re consenting to when you click ‘accept’ – because you just want to download that app and get on with life.
If, like most of the world, you don’t have time to read through reams of jargon, then, if nothing else, there are a few things you should pay attention to.
Careful app selection
Take care when selecting an app. A lot of apps are free, and it is here that there is a danger of downstreaming.
Downstreaming is when an app sells user data on to data brokers. Those data brokers can then sell a person’s information on to anyone in the public domain.
By downstreaming your data, apps and brokers are, essentially, making money from your personal information.
Trust your instincts
Before consenting to hand over your details question, why is this app asking for access to my images and/or my contacts database? Does the app need this information to be able to run?
If it feels wrong, always question it.
What are other people saying?
Check out any one-star reviews. If they are raising serious concerns about the apps security, then perhaps it is one to leave behind.
What are the companies behind the apps saying?
Have a look at the company details. If you were to raise a concern, is the company traceable? Where are they located? Do you know what they stand for? What is their mission? Are they reputable?
The ICO share a wealth of information on data protection and advice on how to protect yourself.
The data you’re consenting to share with apps should always be transparent, and it should be simple and easy for you, the user, to understand. Data protection is important. You don’t need to read every inch of a data consent document, but you do need to be aware of what it is you are potentially giving up to have that app on your device.