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Personal Data Sharing—Are We Really in Control?

The latest controversy surrounding personal data and how it’s shared has served as a tremendous eye opener regarding how much control we really have over our personal data online. We would like to think that the implementation of the GDPR earlier this year would tip the balance in our favor—but instead, the situation is foggier than ever, and the struggle over the control of our data is only just beginning.

What Is Personal Data?

According to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), personal data is any information that relates to an identified or identifiable individual. To most people, personal data includes private details like our name, date of birth, where we live, etc. However, its true definition encompasses more than this. In actuality, personal data embodies the tiniest of details that could relate to us. Our name is not necessarily needed to identify us. Details as small as what time we log into a website is also an example of personal data that might be used. This infographic effectively breaks down the scope of personal data and the different categories of information that fall under it.

Understanding the scope of the subject matter and how much information it embodies will help give us a glimpse into the volume of data we are contributing to the internet.

The Struggle for Control of Our Personal Data

Apart from the fact that we willfully give out our information to social media networks and just about any website requiring our details for one service or another, our activities online are also a major way that service providers are able to access our data.

Corporations and Third Parties

Apparently, our online data reflects our personalities—even the things we don’t know about ourselves. Corporations and organizations can easily identify our do’s and don’ts by skimming through our information online. These entities pay a tremendous amount of money to gain access to our data in order to find a more effective way to market their products and services.

Service Providers

As expected, the websites people visit the most, like social media, content streaming, and online retail websites have emerged as the leading data bank of the digital world. They collect so much data on us that tracking them is becoming difficult. We would expect that these should slow down their data collection activities; instead, they continue to introduce new initiatives that will help them collect more data.

Before the emergence of GDPR, we had no say on our personal data. Service providers were the sole custodian, and they could do whatever they pleased with the data they retrieved. Although it is still business as usual for service providers in some regions, the introduction of GDPR set a new tone as to how the outlook of data policies in the near future will be constructed.

Consumers

The GDPR promises us a seat at the table when it comes to personal data sharing—at least that’s what they claim. They give us access to our personal data, a notification on third-party access, and a right to deletion. However, as discovered by engadget, there are no real standards as to which format service providers should provide this information on. Chances are that the personal data reports we demand from our service providers will only contain the private details that we submitted while opening our accounts.

The Bottom Line

We live in a data-obsessed world, and shared data is the price we pay for the various services we access online. While data policies look to involve us in the personal data sharing process, we are still a long way from total ownership of our data online. After all, how can we possibly own or control what we don’t even know exists?

Nick Galov
Hosting Expert and Content Manager at Techjury.net. Nick is on a mission to improve the world of web hosting for some time now. When he got the chance to contribute to the betterment of all kinds of software, he simply couldn’t say no. When not geeking it out, he enjoys lager and football.

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