10 practical privacy resolutions you can make for the New Year

The day after New Year’s was always my favorite growing up, and not because my birthday is January 2nd (worst birthday ever!). My parents would usually be hungover from the night before and I would happily watch the James Bond marathon on Spike TV without any interruptions or
adults commanding me to get some fresh air. It was tradition year after year, and my favorite part of the movies has always been the psychedelic intros.

Spies always have the coolest gadgets for espionage but unfortunately 007 isn’t the only one doing surveillance. With each app downloaded or social media account created we unknowingly provide third parties data to exploit us. Here are some tips to protect your privacy in the New Year.

1.  Download apps with a separate account, preferably on a tablet. Apps that I just can’t live without but require access to my contacts, location, microphone or location I download on my tablet with a separate account so my privacy is protected. Companies have no right to such personal data but yet we so readily agree in order to use the service or out of convenience.

2.  Use aliases. This year it’s time to bring out your inner spy! Don’t make it easy for data mining companies and hackers to find out all your personal details. (I’m fond of Ariel as my online alter-ego.)

3.  Use your judgment and be professional.  If you wouldn’t tell a roomful of family and friends at a Christmas party, don’t post it online! Instead of putting the best representation of one’s self online, people act how they want which can be detrimental in the long run.

4.  Once it’s out there, it’s out there. User agreements are very one-sided, social media sites own ALL the content you post so be willing to let them own the rights to what you post. It’s just as easy for strangers to steal your photos and use them for their own purposes so make sure you’re willing to give up your ownership rights.

5.  Remove unnecessary permissions for your apps and social media accounts. I have removed all the permissions for my apps if they do not need it to run, they just want my info. For example I don’t have any apps that have permission for my location. It’s convenient to use Google Maps but it’s simple to search your destination by typing in the address online and that way your privacy is protected.

6.  Turn off mobile data when not using it. Notonly does this help your data limit it prevents apps from trying to connect or trying to find your location.

7.  Ask permission to post photos of others. This Christmas be sure to protect the privacy of your friends and family online by asking permission to post photos of them. They have the right to know how they are being portrayed. I also recommend not posting photos of children as they are too young to understand the consequences/dangers of online photos and should make an informed decision when they are old enough.

8. Change your passwords. The New Year is a great time to change your passwords for all of your accounts and helps defend against hackers.

9.  Stalk yourself. Find out what information Facebook and Google has on you and remove any information you think is unnecessary. Google yourself and see what pops up- is it the way you want to be portrayed?

10. No more nudies. Thinking about getting steamy in front of a fireplace this winter? Don’t be fooled- anything you say, anything you send, anything you search can be accessed by some unseen weirdo with a high IQ, no social life and a warped sense of privacy.

Privacy may be an illusion, but it is a fundamental human right and we should do more to protect that right. Unfortunately, don’t believe most of us understand the consequences and dangers of what an online presence entails. Each post is a piece of you, and you have to remember- the people who you intend to see are not the only audience.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Arianne Martin
Arianne Martin
Arianne Martin is an Audience Services Representative at ITWC. She studied public relations at Humber College and psychology at the University of Toronto because she's fascinated with understanding how people think. She loves reading, writing and playing video games and dutifully watches sports with her fiance. She enjoys the company of her two rabbits and one Siberian husky that has a penchant for tomatoes from the backyard garden.

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