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  Data Privacy Week — Own your privacy

Although we conduct much of our lives on the internet and on our connected devices, few people understand how personal information is collected and shared — and just how much. This data can be stored indefinitely, and our personal information can be used in both beneficial and unwelcome ways. Even seemingly innocuous information — such as your favorite restaurants or items you purchase online — can be used to make inferences about your socioeconomic status, preferences, and more.

Here are a few resources to help you understand how your data is collected, used, and protected so you can better manage your personal information and make informed decisions about who receives your data.

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Data Privacy Week

Data Privacy Week is an international effort held annually during the last week of January to create awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust.

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What’s Mark Zuckerberg worth?

Short answer: A lot. $77.5 billion to be exact. And a lot of his money comes from the value of the digital fingerprints we leave behind as we go about our daily routines. Companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and others routinely gather what they call “passive” data — not something we generate consciously — about our online habits: what we buy, websites we visit, our online searches, even the books we check out online from our local library. That’s all data — data about us — and it’s valuable.

What’s data worth?

To companies capturing passive personal data, it’s big business. The world produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day, and 90% of all the data that has ever been produced in all of history was created in just the past two years. According to the European Commission, the value of personalized data in 2020 was nearly $1.2 trillion. Check out this infographic on the value of personal data.

What’s my data worth?

Mining personal data is a gold rush for many companies. But what does it mean for individuals? That’s harder to calculate. In 2015, Comcast paid $100 to each victim of a data breach. Victims had paid a fee to Comcast to keep their data privacy. By most accounts, this was a first because it actually valued an individual’s personal data that was hacked at $100.

So, what’s your data worth? There are examples of people auctioning their personal data on eBay and Craigslist. But maybe a better way to look at the value of personal data is to see it as the value of your personal privacy.

What would it cost you if someone hacked your accounts and stole your identity? What if they impersonated you on your social media accounts, alienating your friends and family? How much is your reputation worth? All of these are worth protecting and “valuing.” And perhaps that’s where we all can find the true value of our data.

Article provided by MediaPRO Cybersecurity & Privacy Education

If you feel like you don’t have any control over your data, you’re not alone. But you have more control than you might think. Thanks to certain requirements in laws like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), privacy policies may be getting shorter and easier to read, but for now, knowing a few important keywords can help. 

Deciphering words that matter 

Use your computer or phone’s “Find on page” function to search for these keywords. 


What it probably means if you see it 

Third parties 

Your data is going to be sold to other companies, probably a data broker. These companies collect online data and sell it to pretty much anyone interested in learning more about customers, voters, students, and consumers … like you. It’s legal but not always honest.


Whatever the policy just said, doesn’t matter. It’s not uncommon for companies to say they won’t sell your data, “except under certain circumstances.” Those exceptions probably make all the difference. 

Such as 

This sneaky term is used when companies want to give you a few examples, but not the complete picture. It might as well mean “whatever we want.”


This tells you how long a company will keep your data. Companies should only keep your data for as long as you’re their customer. If longer, they’re mining your data.


If the company gives you options to delete your data, they’re showing some respect for you. If they don’t, they’re acting like they own your data, not you.


Check the date the policy was last updated. If it's recent, the company is taking your privacy more seriously. If not, they might not deserve your trust.


This might be the most important word to find because it indicates your options in determining how your data is treated. Many companies have privacy settings, but they aren't always turned on by default.


What can you do really?

Based on what you find, you might want to act. Consumers may have limited options, but we're not powerless.

Take your business elsewhere.Reward companies that do privacy right with your business and ditch companies that don't. When we do, we might help encourage entire industries toward a more ethical future.

Take control. If a company provides options to do things like consent, opt-out, adjust privacy settings, or delete your data, you should take advantage of them. These tools aren't helping you if you don't use them. Get in the habit of checking each website's or service's options when you sign up.

Be picky.Companies have trained us to not value our data. But think twice before you share anything online. The less data about you out there, the fewer chances it can be used unethically.

Speak up. If you see something weird or alarming in a privacy policy, say something. Your online voice can matter more than you think. Many companies are obsessed with their image, and constantly monitor social media for chatter about them, good and bad. Change only happens when everyday folks put pressure on companies to do the right thing and treat us like people … not ones and zeros.

Article provided by MediaPRO Cybersecurity & Privacy Education

Do you feel an increasing lack of control over your personal data?

Good news, there are steps you can take to learn about the types of data you’re generating online, and how it’s collected, shared, and used. Follow these basic privacy tips to help you better manage your personal information and make informed decisions about who receives your data.

Personal info is like money: Value it. Protect it.

Personal information, such as your purchase history, IP address, or location, has tremendous value to businesses – just like money. Make informed decisions about whether or not to share your data with certain businesses by considering the amount of personal information they are asking for and weighing it against the benefits you may receive in return.

Keep tabs on your apps.

Many apps ask for access to personal information, such as your geographic location, contacts list and photo album, before you can use their services. Be thoughtful about who gets that information, and wary of apps that require access to information that is not required or relevant for the services they are offering. Delete unused apps on your internet-connect devices and keep others secure by performing updates.


Manage your privacy settings.

Check the privacy and security settings on web services and apps and set them to your comfort level for information sharing. Each device, application or browser you use will have different features to limit how and with whom you share information. Get started with NCSA’s Manage Your Privacy Settings page:

 Information provided by Stay Safe Online


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Last Updated: 1/30/23