In today’s world, everyone is sharing information online. It’s what’s required to have a digital presence. For me personally, however, privacy is really important and something people seem too willing to give up in the online world.
I don’t want just anyone knowing where I live, all of my interests or how much is in my investment account. At the same time, I do want to get insights and services that can be better provided when the companies I chose to work with know enough about me to optimize my experience.
I see 3 main questions we should ask ourselves as it relates to privacy online:
1. How much data are you sharing?
2. Who are you sharing it with?
3. Are you comfortable with exactly what’s being shared?
Answering those 3 key questions
If I were to answer these 3 questions, my answers may be different than yours – and that’s the point. We all have different comfort levels with what we are willing to share.
So to answer question #1 – how much am I sharing? I know that my family shares a lot of information with Amazon, but the services we get in return are exactly what we want and need, so it’s worthwhile to me to share that information with them. I know that I also share a lot of information with Google, using them as a search tool and also having gmail and the entire G-suite. I’m much less clear on what exactly they do with my data and who else has access to it. That’s why I’ve started using DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn’t sell my data, and Brave a privacy-first web browser that blocks ads and trackers by default on the websites I visit. I am also looking for alternatives to gmail.
In answer to question #2 – who am I sharing my information with? I recently looked at my Facebook privacy settings and saw that Cyndi Lauper has access to my Facebook data!! How did that happen? Why would I want Cyndi Lauper to have access to my data? (I don’t!) It’s important that privacy settings are crystal clear and easily accessible to users so we can check regularly who has access to our data and determine whether or not we’re comfortable with that, and then have the ability to remove their access and the data history as well.
Question #3 – am I comfortable with what I’m sharing and who I’m sharing it with? This is the big question for me. And it’s a significant part of what we decided to focus on when my co-founder @AmitBronner and I first started Onist. If we wanted our users to put important life and financial information in our system, we had to design a system where even Onist employees could not see the data. This was a complicated task to do but was made possible by the privacy-by-design architecture design we implemented. Checkout Amit’s blog post on privacy by design for more information.
Open banking and other considerations
We’ve spoken and written about open banking before. At its core, open banking is about letting consumers chose which companies can have access to their data.
To me this is yet another key step in giving consumers like you and I the right to control our own data. For example, if I want a credit monitoring company to be able to properly keep a lookout for credit or identity fraud, I should be able to choose to give that credit monitoring company access to my accounts. Similarly, I should be able to use the third party financial management tools I want to see a full picture of my finances and make better financial decisions with my family. The world is moving towards giving users the power to decide who sees what when it comes to their data, and this is great news!
What’s your comfort level?
When it comes down to it, I am okay with giving up some of my privacy for a certain amount of value in return – I want to be connected so in some cases it’s worthwhile to me to share my data. But I absolutely want to know exactly what I’m sharing, and with who, in order to feel comfortable sharing any of my information with anyone.
I’d love to hear which companies you are comfortable sharing your data with and what services they provide you in return that make it worthwhile for you to share – please tweet @Onistplatform to let me know!