Be careful on the internet

20 December 2016

What you enter in a computer, tablet or smartphone almost never disappears, and can easily be distributed. This is especially true for the internet. What happens with your information? Who is accessing it, and why? Do you believe the picture that is painted below is an exaggeration? Think again – it is reality.

Facebook knows who you visited yesterday.
The Tax Authority knows how you got there.
Apple kept track of how long you stayed.
Samsung heard what you said.
And Google knew you were planning to go there.

Why you do have something to hide
While you’re surfing on the internet, you leave tracks of information behind. You sometimes even enter it yourself on a site. In other cases, information is composed by using observations from companies and organisations. Facebook, for example, but also the government. What is the problem? Surely, you have nothing to hide? You may not be bothered by being approached with so-called targeted advertising. But there still is a problem. Because organisations can use your information and draw conclusions from it. About your health, for example. Or about the chance of you entering into illegal activities – which is a practical example, by the way. And exactly how reliable and recent is that information about you? You should know that there is plenty of incorrect information in government databases. And we haven’t mentioned data breaches yet; events that cause your personal data to be available – to computer criminals and everyone else. In summary, no matter how honest and law-abiding you are – you definitely have something to hide. Watch this documentary about the power of privacy.

Be careful and lock off your privacy
Safeguarding your own privacy starts with awareness. Be aware that you leave a treasure trove of data behind on the internet. Others can collect, process, or exchange these data, and draw (incorrect) conclusions from them. That is why you should treat your privacy as you do your home: lock it off.

  • Secure your belongings. Keep strangers out. That is: be careful with entering personal data on the internet. You could use pseudonyms, for example.
  • Mind your keys. And be equally sensible with your passwords.
  • Don’t let strangers inside. For example, use an ad blockerand keep cookies outside. Also set the security or privacy settings on your computer or mobile device as an extra lock on the door.
  • Read the small print. Be careful with what you agree when installing handy apps and software.
  • Use your common sense. How smart is that fitness bracelet that keeps track of your heart rate, lifestyle or other medical information online… really?