If you browse the internet at any given time, chances are, you’ve stumbled upon some conversations about data. From data breaches to changes in data privacy law, there is always something happening in the data world. For a plethora of industries, understanding the personal data of consumers is important in terms of how they operate, comply, and serve. But just how important is understanding personal data as an every day internet users and why?
First of all, what exactly IS personal data?
A lot of elements are considered personal data also known as personal identifiable information (PII).
This includes your:
- Full name
- Email address(es)
- Home address
- Country, city, state/province of residence
- Postal code
- Phone numbers (mobile, landline)
- Date of birth (age)
- ID (social security number, passport number, drivers license number)
- Credit card number
- Login credentials
All of this information is used to identify who you are for a wide variety of reasons (we will get to that, don’t worry).
Now that you know what personal data is, why is it so important to understand it?
It’s easy to understand your personal data, after all, it’s literally all about you! What’s good to understand is how your personal data is being used.
“Wait, what…my personal data is being used? How?! By who?!”
Unless you live under a rock far, far, faaaar away from technology, your personal data has been shared across the world wide web. When you create a social account, sign up for a service, make a purchase, or even just browse some interesting articles, your personal data is being shared. No need to be alarmed, it’s not as scary as it sounds. While having your information all around the internet is not ideal, most companies leverage it to help build a better experience for you. Keyword, MOST. Understanding where your personal data lives and what companies utilize it for can help you make more conscientious decisions when going online or using smart devices around the house.
Well, now that we mentioned it, you’re probably wondering – what in the world do companies use my personal data for?
While you may be reluctant to tell a random person on the street your name and date of birth because, heaven forbid a random person knows that, you have already given this information away to a lot of sources. Because, however, you yourself aren’t physically voicing this information to another person, it’s a lot easier to pass this info along.
What are companies doing with this information? Companies leverage personal and behavioural data (what you do online, links you click, sites you visit, etc) to better personalize your experience and serve you content that they believe is most relevant for you. By better targeting content towards relevant users, companies have a better chance of capturing the audiences they want to, in turn, driving sales and making money.
Companies also use data to secure data. That sounds crazy, I know, but hear me out. When you login to your banking app, for example, you may be asked to answer some personalized questions or you may be asked for personal information about yourself. The information you give will verify your identity and allow you to access further data (your banking info in this case) and block out anyone who cannot provide this information.
Is there a way I can avoid giving my personal information away?
Yes and no. A lot of companies have privacy controls that allow you to have limited control over your information. With the demise of cookies, it’s now easier to opt out of sharing data, however, that isn’t the case for every platform. A lot of platforms require a certain level of information in order for you to utilize them.
While information is typically required, companies are becoming increasingly transparent with what they are showing to consumers. What info they had on you and what they were sharing used to be tucked in the furthest corner possible, but now a lot of platforms are putting the spotlight on the information and making it more accessible to consumers.
Now that I know all of this, how does Killi come into play?
When it comes to personal data, our mission is to give consumers better control. Transparency is one thing, but control is another. We believe that you should have every right to opt out of sharing certain information you don’t feel comfortable sharing (hey, maybe I don’t want to share my date of birth and reveal my actual age to the world). Another fun fact, companies actually make quite a bit of money from your personal data. Think about it, when is the last time Facebook or Twitter sent you a check in the mail as a thank you for all the data you provide? We want to give consumers a piece of the pie – metaphorical pie, please don’t show up to our office asking for pie.
Understanding your personal data, why it’s being used, how it’s being used, and the rights you have to it is essential to help you better fine tune your own experience in the digital space and protect your identity one step at a time.