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A Day in the Life of Your Data

Photo by Corrine Kutz on Unsplash

Meet Charlie! >😊

Charlie is an everyday emoticon, simply living life through a global pandemic. Like a lot of everyday Australians, Charlie is getting curious about how their personal data is collected, shared and used. Follow Charlie’s day and see if you can find out how Charlie could gain more control of their data.

A day in the life

Learn about some of the data touchpoints in day-to-day life by following Charlie’s day*.

8am: The much-needed morning Coffee and Application Trackers

To get in a little exercise in the midst of a global pandemic, Charlie starts their day with a short walk to the local coffee shop. As a member of the loyalty scheme, Charlie uses an app which records their order history and shares with them the latest offers. This app can even use GPS data to send Charlie the best local coffee shop deals across the region.

During the walk there are 3 apps on Charlie’s phone that are collecting and tracking location data. Although location data is ‘anonymous’, the app developers sell this data to a third-party brokerage service that then amalgamates various data sources to be able to identify Charlie.

9am: Morning tea and Cookies

At work, Charlie takes a 15-minute morning break to book a flight to New Zealand over Christmas. The airline collects various personal data such as name, address, email, and passport information. This information is then shared to others to ensure a smooth flight, such as baggage handlers to make sure luggage goes to the right place, or the Government for border control.

Charlie gets an ad for discounted hotels in Auckland, New Zealand. Through booking the flight a ‘cookie’ was left on Charlie’s computer to track online activity.

12 pm: #Break-a-sweat and Selfies

With a New Year’s resolution to get fit — it’s the same every year for Charlie, but this year it’s different — Charlie goes for a lunchtime run. Charlie’s fitness tracker can tell him his route, calories used, pace and even how much sleep he gets at night. This information is very motivating to Charlie, so he consciously makes decisions to allow his fitness tracker the most information possible.

Sweating up a storm, Charlie takes a photo when they get home and uses a filtering app to make them look like a Zombie. The filtering app’s access rights provide access to all photos on the device and attached metadata. Charlie is not aware of this.

6pm: Cash Money and Dinner with Friends

Charlie knocks off work and heads to a Korean BBQ with some friends. On the way, they stop to withdraw cash at an ATM. Charlie’s bank tracks where transactions occur to help fight fraud, Charlie often takes money out at the ATM near a local Korean BBQ.

Over dinner Charlie takes photos with friends, posts to their open social media channels and tags their location. Anyone looking at this will know Charlie is not home right now.

In hindsight…

After this long day, Charlie has been wondering about all their data points tracked and shared by apps. They are now conscious that by being aware of where their data is captured and how it is used, they can remain in control of the data and make personal choices about what, where and how they share.

Keeping in Control of your data — with Victoria Schiffer Head of Security Culture and Trust at SEEK

Victoria Schiffer

Sharing data can provide convenience, personalization and enable you to get the best out of a product or service. What is important is that we are aware of and remain in control of this choice.

After reading about Charlie’s day and the many data touchpoints in their day-to-day life, Victoria asks you to take the time to ask yourself:

  1. Do you trust the application or organization with your data?
    Do you really need to use the app, and if so, can you reduce which data the app gets access to? Consider removing the app’s access to your location, photos, your microphone, and camera. These settings can always be changed again. I recommend you start with the minimal permissions you really need.
  2. Do you really want to share that information? What might you (accidentally) give away about yourself, your friends, family or workplace when posting this information? Practice mindful posting and always think about what information you give away in a photo or through a post. Some social media posts can contain your location or be public if you don’t change the post’s settings. Be mindful and choose what is right for you and the people mentioned in your post whenever you post something.
  3. Have you cleared your browser history, caches and cookies lately? When visiting a website, consider reducing which cookies you allow a website to set, rather than clicking ‘accept all cookies’ by default. A good tip is to allow the necessary cookies only — even if this means an extra click or two.

By asking yourself these three questions, you have started your journey to understand and manage your data.

*The above ‘Day in the Life’ was utilized as a short campaign for SEEKers over Slack for Data Privacy Day (28th January). It was influenced by Apples ‘A Day in the Life’ and Barclays ‘Day in the life of your Data.’




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Sarah I

Sarah I

Security Influencer @SEEK, lover of meme’s, pop culture and an alarming amount of coffee.

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