There are more than 7 billion people in the world, of whom almost 4 are
using the Internet. This is the metric with which the website
(available in 12 languages) distinguishes the world population: the first
is defined as total population, the second digital population. Do you use an electronic device daily?
Do you shop online, chat, and surf on social media? Good! You are part of
the digital population, and you are also subject to
so-called profiling. But what is profiling? Article 4 of
the GDPR, the new
European Regulation which went into action on May 25th
, defines profiling as “any form of automated processing of personal data
consisting of the use of such data to evaluate certain aspects related to a
physical person, in particular to analyze or predict aspects of
professional performance, economic status, health, personal preferences,
interests, reliability, behavior, location or movement of that physical
person”. Such a personal data are collected in a homogeneous group based on
tastes, interests and behaviors. Every time, therefore, that a user clicks
“Like” on Facebook, searches for any product on Google or Amazon or
downloads an app, an algorithm reads this action, archives it and
re-proposes it in the form of an advertising message in subsequent
The question we must ask ourselves, then, is: ”
Are we willing to give away all this information which, in theory,
should be personal and protected?
The case of Cambridge Analytica
In previous months, in our article ”
What is happening to Facebook
?” we had discussed the Cambridge Analytica case, a company that has sold
personal data of profiles of over 87 million users of the social network to
third parties for commercial and political purposes. On the other hand, a
study carried out by the University Carlos III of Madrid had highlighted
how Facebook gets at hand personal and sensitive data (political opinions,
religion, union membership, health data, life and sexual orientation) of
about 40% of the total European citizens, almost 205 million people.
In the light of the new European regulation, we then wonder if
our data in the future will ever truly be safe and if our privacy will
finally be respected. Furthermore, it is not trivial to ask what will
happen to the personal information previously shared.
Only time, unfortunately, will tell and give us the answers we seek. But
one thing is sure: the new European regulation on privacy will bring to
every field – including the IT – substantial changes.
5 useful tips for our privacy
Is it really possible to protect your data on the Internet, or should we
resign ourselves to being spied on or manipulated? Waiting for the effects
of the new European Regulations, each of us, with a little care and common
sense, can start taking precautions to protect our privacy on the Internet.
Here are 5 useful tips that we advise you to follow:
Utilize anti-profiling browsers
On the web you can find some browsers, like Qwant, that guarantee anti-profiling
services that guarantee quasi-anonymity by detecting only the essential
data necessary for navigation, for example, geographical origin on a
The “friend” list
Did you ever accept friend requests from or add people you don’t know, or
that you do not know well, maybe because they sent you a friend request or
simply because you wanted to increase the list of your “friends” on
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.?
Let us be aware that what we share is accessible to people we really trust.
It is advisable, therefore, to purge your contacts list, making a clear
distinction between “friends” and “acquaintances” in order to decide to
share our daily routines, a photo, a special memory or a thought to “all
and only our true friends.”
3. Terms, Conditions e Privacy
Various platforms have recently been updating their policies of usage
characterized by an increasingly rich discipline in terms of privacy and
security. Surely you will be flooded with such insistence. It is useful,
however, to dedicate a minute of reading to these texts that you can find
in the settings or at the footer of the App or on the web page of the site
of your interest, under the heading “Terms and Conditions.
Some social networks, like Facebook, have also implemented in their
platforms the possibility for the user to decide which information to share
and what the social network can use. You will find all this by going to the
settings of your social network and clicking on the “privacy setting,”
follow the preset guideline, read well the premises what you agree to and
disagree to share and be sure to give your consent to information that can
effectively be shared with third parties.
4. Personal Data
It is customary to put personal data on your profile (the city in which we
live, our home address, the year of birth, or cell number). But is all this
useful information really needed to boost the potentials of that particular
platform? Thinking that sometimes the smallest amount of information about
a person can be enough to steal their identity, it’s better not to
facilitate this for cyber criminals who could use that information for
illicit purposes and even to one’s own detriment. It would be advisable to
modify your profile by deleting data or not entering it when new
information is asked.
5. Pay attention to the apps for smartphones
Those who download an application for their Android from Google Play, will surely have noticed that in order
to be installed, it requires consent to access of data on the device. But
is it really essential that an App has access to all our information in
order to function properly?
Fortunately no! Some manufacturers of Mobile Apps are “clever”
when it comes to additions, mandatory permissions, and
access to data that is not really essential for its operation. Therefore,
we must pay close attention to what we install and the permissions we give,
to keep our privacy, security and data from unwanted circulation. How can
we intervene if we need that particular application, but it requires so
many accesses to be able to install it?
There are no softwares or automatic apps to help in this
concrete case, but we can still take some precautions:
Before installing an application, check that it does not require access to
those areas of our smartphone from which it is possible to easily extract
our sensitive data, unless they are strictly needed for its
functionality. What are the so-called dangerous authorizations?:
Calendar, Camera, Contacts, Body Sensors, Microphone, SMS, Memory,
Location and Phone.
b) Only install applications from the PlayStore, verify from the
application menu that Google Play Protect is active, and avoid
installing applications from “unknown sources”.
c) Always manage the settings of our applications! By accessing the settings of our device in the App/Applications/Permissions area,
you will be faced with a list of all the applications installed on your
device. Clicking on one of them, in addition to the usual information, you
will find the “Permissions” button from which you can both
verify the information to which that particular App has access, or unselect
access to those areas not essential for proper operation.
Let’s remember the most effective tool to defend your data – our common
sense – always remains!
Good and safe surfing, everyone!