Data Privacy

Data privacy is all over our news feeds and is on many people’s minds. Data privacy refers to the protection of an individual’s personal information or data. It means ensuring that it is collected, processed, stored, and shared in a way that respects that person’s rights and maintains confidentiality.  

But, here’s my summation of data privacy: There is none.  

That may be frightening to see in black and white, but the bottom line is, with the increasing digitization of information and the rise of technologies that collect and process data, concerns about data privacy have become more prominent. But, it’s not as simple is a pop-up screen with tiny print telling us the latest updates to a site’s data privacy standards (which none of us read anyway!).  

If you are worried about data privacy, live a life you don’t mind sharing with the world, including your grandma and your co-workers. If you are not willing to put your whole life on the front page of The New York Times, change your life.  Because no one has true privacy and be careful of what’s coming. Think about all these media moguls and social media stars who thought they could get away with whatever latest scandal they found themselves in.  Bottom line, tomorrow they will find that they are the top-selling headline and most clickable link on social media. 

This is not just conspiracy theory talk. It’s being collected; it has been collected—and while regulation is trying to ensure data is used in the right way, breeches and hacking events are reported on a nearly daily basis. In terms of data privacy, that horse has left the barn.

Data privacy for corporations is incredibly complex in terms of collecting and storing data. However, for the typical individual it is also critical.  You need to be aware of several key principles including consent, data minimization, security, and transparency.  For example, consider when you are seeking employment.  If you think that your potential employers are not checking your digital footprint, you are incorrect. 

Managing your online presence and data privacy is crucial in today’s digital age, especially when job hunting. The same goes for college prospects and college student athletes—same principle. Coaches and recruiters often look at a prospect’s social media presence to assess their personality, professionalism, and whether they align with the values of the team or institution. Some things to keep in mind when entering those markets are as follows:

  • Audit your social media profiles; remove or make private any content that might be considered unprofessional, offensive, or could be misconstrued by potential employers. Pretend your grandmother is going through your posts and act accordingly. 
  • Adjust your privacy settings including who can see your posts and personal information.
  • Think before you post!  Remember, like words we say out loud, once we post something, “it’s out there!” It will be very difficult to completely erase it.
  • Google yourself! This is probably the first thing I would do.  What would a potential employer read about me, or what pictures would they see, if they were to Google me? 

While data privacy may not be something you can completely save from outside entities, you can proactively manage your online presence and be mindful of your data privacy. You can also present yourself in the best possible light while safeguarding your personal information. Remember, the internet has a long memory, so take precautions as a wise investment in your future.