Is Your Personal Information Safe?

Recently Canadians and Americans discovered how their governments spy on their own citizens by accessing their personal information online. Many people have become concerned about their privacy and have expressed their dissatisfaction. However, what they got in return from the government were assurances that either the government did not spy on its citizens, and if it did, this was for the purpose of protecting the wellbeing of its citizens.

Many of us (including me) were not satisfied with such an answer and started to look for ways to protect ourselves. Since we are spied on via phone conversations, text-messaging, use of social media, emails, and other technologies, I propose the following suggestions that could help us:

  1. Talk in-person – when possible, avoid texting or calling in order to exchange personal information. If the situation permits it, talk to your friends in-person.
  2. Stop the constant updates on social media – letting everybody know where you are located, which event you are going to, or what you have eaten for breakfast will not help you protect your privacy. When possible avoid posting updates about your personal life.
  3. Think before clicking the ‘send’ button – before sending a message think whether it contains personal information about you or somebody else and imagine what would happen if somebody else reads this information.
  4. Consider the audience – keep in mind the reaction of your intended and non-intended recipient. For instance, a message suggesting to run the car into a bar may seem like a joke to your friends, but may seem as a safety issue by the government.
  5. Know the security features of your channel – many social media channels have good privacy and security features that allow you to protect your information. Make sure you know what they are and use them.

These are the steps I have chosen for myself when I learned about how the government can easily access our personal information. It would be interesting to hear other advises. Feel free to leave your recommendations below and remember that the government is reading it as well.

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4 thoughts on “Is Your Personal Information Safe?

  1. Great comments and strategies Yuliya. Makes people have to become very conscious of what they put online. Makes me think of the “party lines” that people used to have to use to share phone lines. You had to be careful or coded when talking to others because you never knew who could be listening!

  2. Great post Yulia, very sensible advice. Especially, the simple stuff like just talk in person more. I have a feeling that as more of these security scandals arise and expose the vast amounts of data collected about us people will start to rebel by pulling back on some of the technology and doing things the old fashioned way.

  3. Great post Yuliya! There is so much to read and think about when it comes to online privacy and surveillance. Your suggestions are all good – and there are still so many other things we can do! Sometimes it feels overwhelming – but I think any tightening of our online practices in terms of privacy protection is useful. And more privacy “best practices” can be added over time. It thought this LifeHacker piece was instructive: http://lifehacker.com/this-infographic-shows-you-how-to-delete-yourself-from-1536935719

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