The increasing popularity of social networks and digitization of online transactions forces us to share our personal data on the Internet. Even though there is sensitive information that we prefer not to disclose, we often share it online without realizing it, which can compromise our data security and exposes us to unnecessary risks.
Data privacy is an important issue, which we must understand and protect to prevent an invasion of our privacy. In this article we give you the keys to protecting data and sensitive information on the Internet, and we offer you tips to ensure that your data is used only with your consent.
Data privacy what is it exactly?
According to law, data privacy is the legal asset that is protected by the so-called “right to privacy“. Essentially, this means that people have the right to protect their private lives and personal information from third parties, whether they are individuals or companies.
Data privacy involves two main aspects. The first is the “access control”, whose objective is to define what particular data is allowed to be shared without affecting the rights of the user.
Once the scope of sensitive information has been defined, the second important aspect of privacy comes into play: the establishment of protection mechanisms. Measures such as data encryption are implemented to prevent unauthorized access to private or confidential data. They can also be set to prevent the user from accidentally sharing sensitive data, for example by forwarding an email.
Data consent when and why?
One of the keys to privacy on the Internet is data consent, regulated by the General Data Protection Regulation. According to the personal data law, consent must be given clearly and unequivocally by the user, who must have received detailed information about the management of their data by the service or website.
The express consent is opposed to the “tacit consent”, by which companies and web pages accessed the information assuming without proof that the interested party allowed such access. With current regulations, the user has to explicitly consent, or their data cannot be transmitted to the page in question.
Despite this regulation, Internet users often give permission for the management of their data without reading the conditions. This error often causes companies to obtain information that users do not know they are sharing. To avoid this, it is crucial to read the terms and conditions, especially in areas such as the following:
- Collection of personal data through web forms
- The treatment of data of minors, which require the consent of the minor and their parents up to 13 years of age.
- In the workplace, employee data collection forms.
- All data related to the medical profile when shared with an employer or a health professional.
- The data of owners of a property managed by the property manager.
In all of the above situations, it is important to look closely at the conditions under which data is shared. In particular, it is important to check that we are not giving permission to disclose particularly sensitive information to third parties.
Sensitive data example
The concept of sensitive information encompasses a wide variety of personal data. According to data protection regulations, sensitive data may belong to any of the following fields:
- Data related to racial origin, political ideology and religious beliefs
- Union membership data
- Shared genetic and biometric data for personal identification
- Medical data and all those related to life and sexual orientation
Regulations protect even the most basic personal information, such as a person’s full name or date of birth. Documents that contain this type of sensitive information must also be protected, including resumes and photos or passwords.
How can we protect our private information?
It may seem complicated to protect private information, but there are ways to limit the risk of being cyber-attacked or accidentally sharing sensitive data. Just follow these tips:
- Strong passwords: Choosing a password with numbers, letters, and punctuation marks will make accessing your accounts more difficult. Of course, it is important not to share it with anyone, especially through social networks or messaging services.
- Verify that the website is trusted before entering personal data or downloading content. To do this, check that the URL starts with HTTPS: this indicates that the data is encrypted.
- Read conditions of use: We have all made the mistake of accepting the conditions without reading them. Although it may take time, it is a fundamental step to avoid the theft of our data.
- Avoid public networks: free Internet access in public establishments can expose us to cyberattacks. If you connect to a public network, do not enter personal data.
- Clear browsing history: Although cookies can make a web page load faster, it is important to clean your browsers regularly.
- Update the antivirus: The antivirus is the minimum protection that any computer needs. Make sure to update it often to protect your data.
Digital Future Society: Cybersecurity and digital rights
Data security is not an exclusively individual matter. More and more organizations and government institutions create initiatives to raise awareness about Internet safety in society. Digital Future Society is an example: promoted by MWCapital and the Spanish Ministry of Economic and Digital Transformation, it aims to promote a digital transformation more equitative and sustainable, focusing the debate on digital rights.
Digital Future Society is established as a link between organizations, institutions, companies and academic entities to seek solutions to the challenges of the digital revolution. Its radius of action extends to several areas such as public innovation, equitative growth and digital security.
Initiatives like Digital Future Society represents create a necessary thinking space about security, equity, ethics and human rights in digital age. The dissemination of information on the risks associated with the Internet is an indispensable condition for the protection of individual and collective rights in the future. Cooperative initiatives can contribute to building a better digital environment in which the new technologies are developed arround a code of good practices that protects citizens freedoms.