What is Privacy?

What is Privacy and why should you care about it?

You have probably heard the term “privacy policy” even if you’ve never read one. It might sound boring, and make you think of a document filled with legal terms and difficult to understand language.

You probably haven’t read many privacy policies or terms of service agreements, but have you ever wondered why these exist and whether you should check them more carefully? Read on to learn why privacy is important and why you should carefully consider it.

Privacy is about protecting your life, rights, views and interests!

Data about you can provide others with information about your life, habits and opinions. For example, if you regularly visit a certain sweet shop, this could show that you are interested in baked goods. You may wonder whether it is really important to protect this information. Surely many people are interested in baked goods and there is no harm in that! True. However, it really depends on the person, the situation, and who has access to this information. Perhaps your friends know that you stop at the sweet shop on your way to work every morning. Even if you would rather they didn’t know this information, their knowledge would not likely result in much harm. On the other hand, if you live in a place where healthcare costs can vary based on your condition, a health insurance company might use the same information to predict that you have a high risk for obesity-related disease, which may impact how much money you have to pay for insurance.

We share a lot of personal information online, and our actions are recorded much more easily than in the physical world. If you visit a shop and make purchases with cash, there is unlikely to be any record of those transactions, except in the memory of the shop owner. However, if you buy something online, a record of your purchasing or viewing behavior will likely be created. If this data is treated appropriately and you understand how it is used, there should not be any reason for concern. For example, you may find it useful for a company to provide recommendations for other products in which you may be interested, and it may be important to analyze data to detect system troubles or fraudulent behavior. Data is also commonly shared with third parties for advertisement purposes, to show you ads that are suited to your interests.

Privacy laws exist to ensure that your data is used only for appropriate purposes, in ways that match your expectations. Depending on the applicable laws, certain choices or rights regarding your personal data may be available to you. Privacy policies will explain the specific purposes for which data is used, so it is important to read and understand them.

Remember, privacy laws exist to protect you! Know your rights and consider your privacy-related choices carefully.

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