What are your apps and websites doing with your private data?
Updated: July 27th, 2022
Just by using a website, you’re giving them your IP address, which is easily linked to your specific household through various third party services. That data can be combined with other databases to determine who else lives in your house, what your purchases behaviors are, your demographics, your email and phone number, and your interests.
Often these websites set a cookie in your browser that is then shared with advertising marketplaces to piece together what other websites you’ve been to. This creates a behavioral profile about you that advertisers use to target you with ads. The ads aren’t bad in themselves. But when the brokers get hacked, now all this detailed information about you gets into the wrong hands.
Any mobile app that uses your location, which is most of the big ones (social media, photo apps, restaurant apps, maps, fitness apps, neighborhood apps, family sharing apps, web browsers, travel apps), sells that data, sometimes in its raw form, to anyone who wants to buy it. They claim it’s anonymous location data, but that’s impossible.
The data can be used to determine the latitude and longitude and hence address of where you live, where you work, where you shop and who you visit. Everywhere you go is on public display to anyone who wants to buy the data. It can be used for blackmail, extortion, scams, and all kinds of terrible things. There are stories of employees at some of these companies using the data to stalk spouses and catch them cheating. And it even can be used for kidnapping and human trafficking.
Delete your data from any apps and services you no longer use and give apps the minimum permissions they need.
PrivacyHawk has a free inbox scan feature that can help you easily identify which companies and apps are likely to be using your private information. You can use PrivacyHawk to make delete requests to any apps that no longer need your data.