Protecting Your Privacy Better: Using Personal Data Apps That Insist on Privacy-by-Design

Happy Data Privacy Day from everyone at Pikcio! To mark the occasion we are going to discuss privacy online and how to protect it.

Privacy and security are often used to mean the same thing. Although they’re closely related and work together, they are not. Security is about protecting your digital assets, even if others can figure out that those assets are yours. You want to make sure your email or phone cannot be hacked, despite your email address and phone number being widely known.

Reduce traceability

Privacy is ensuring that you (and your data) are not being observed. Using a pre-paid mobile phone with a disposable number that isn’t associated with you is an example of preventing surveillance. You may also resort to providing false information on social sites in order to give yourself some anonymity. These accounts may not be secure as they are prone to hacks. However, they are private in the sense that they cannot easily be traced back to you personally.

Surveillance capitalism

We will talk about securing identity and personally identifiable data in the next blog post, but let’s focus on protecting privacy for now.

It is almost impossible to conduct any kind of significant transaction online without providing personal information. Unfortunately, this data is stored in a central database. It is then reused or sold at the discretion of the company who collected the data. This has far-reaching implications for any transaction you do after that initial transaction.

For example, it is almost funny how a simple Google search for “best new cars” turns into exposure to advertisements for new cars on every platform you visit. You could be reading an academic paper on consensus algorithms and there would still be an ad for a car in the sidebar. Alternatively, your Facebook, YouTube and Instagram ads have suddenly become car-centric. Your search history is not only captured but tracked.

Of course, there are benefits to customized content. However, giving up your privacy as your data is tracked seems like a significant price to pay. It is what we call “surveillance capitalism.”

Privacy-by-design

Developers are becoming more aware of this problem and are building apps that include privacy by design. This means that instead of developing an app first and trying to protect the data second, developers are incorporating privacy-protecting features into the software at each stage. This way, you know the app is not tracking your data.

How do you know whether an app has taken this approach?

There is no easy answer to this. A first step would be to read the privacy policy of any site requiring your data. If you have a choice of apps (e.g. a new privacy-protecting search engine), research how they protect data at rest and during transmission. You can also look into what data they want from you, whether it is stored (e.g. search terms) and what data is passively collected (e.g. IP address, location, etc.)

Privacy is a fundamental cornerstone of human dignity. It will only become more important to us as companies increase their surveillance. As 2019 continues, expect to see more firms like Pikcio make their privacy-by-design explicit on their websites and in their apps.

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Warm regards,

The PikcioChain Team