Keeping private data private

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In the social media age, many of us often overlook the need to draw the line on certain information. Private data, the ones that sites like Facebook culls from users to be able to use the app, can be breached. And these data may be used against a person.

Data protection in the electronic age is very critical because whether simply opening an email account or purchasing something online, people are asked to provide information about themselves.

Many of us set our privacy settings in such a way to filter those who can and cannot see our social media posts or to guard against “spam” or unwanted emails.

On Facebook, unless you’re a celebrity or an organization courting views from the public, it’s foolish to set your privacy setting to “public” in which anyone can see your posts.

Many crimes have been committed – like simple burglaries – because of very public posts that announced to the entire world and even to dubious “friends” and “followers” that you’re on vacation and that your house was free to be ransacked. And we are not even talking about identity theft.

The examples on how information we freely share online can be used against us go on and on. How many fake FB, Instagram and Twitter Accounts had been created using photos downloaded online?
Keeping private data private is, thus, very important as counter-measures against identity theft, financial scammers and online hooligans, bullies and stalkers.

Weeks ago, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go said President Rodrigo Duterte was committed to enforcing Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

Sure enough, Duterte signed last July 3 Proclamation Order 527 designating the last week of May as National Data Privacy Awareness Week.

All government agencies, as well as state universities and colleges, were required by the President to help inform people about safeguarding their private data.

Prior to the passage of the Data Privacy Act of 2012, companies, especially inter-related ones, were free to share their customers’ data.

So, it came as no surprise to receive calls from car dealers, who did not only get your number from a “friendly bank” but also got to know your financial capability to buy.

With the 2012 law, companies can no longer freely share customer data base, mailing lists and other information shared to them by clients. They are required to have data protection officers to ensure compliance with the law.

The Data Privacy Commission, in fact, has been sending personnel to companies to see how they handle customers’ data and if they’re in accordance with the Data Privacy Act.

In the end, we are still in the best position to safeguard the privacy of our data. We need to arm ourselves with knowledge about keeping the security of our data.

Transact only – especially online – with established companies and organizations and be aware of the many tricks used by scammers to steal information from you.

Always remember that going online carries with it inherent risks on your private data being stolen. So be very, very careful because even the government – armed with the Data Protection Act of 2012 – can only do so much.

As millennials say, “TMI (too much information)” – if you’re not careful, it can bring you harm.

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