Saturday, June 9, 2012

Take Control of Your Data

These days we hear a lot about Big Data and how companies are struggling to manage all the data they have.  We should also be concerned about how much of our own personal data is out there, and how much control we have over it.

Every time you go online you share information about yourself, and the more you do online the more important it is that you and your personal data are protected.

The iPhone secretly tracks your location. Amazon has lost your files in the cloud. Hackers have stolen the details of 100 million customers from Sony. This string of revelations has left many people wondering how they can get more control over their personal data.

Whenever you sign up to a website or install an app, you are potentially giving the company behind the service access to your personal data - even if you don't realize it. There are a lot of great aspects to “Web 2.0” and the rise of social media. But be aware that much of the online world is based on a business model of exploiting data about you without your knowledge or participation.

There are things you can do to take control, but it takes vigilance.

You can monitor for appearances of your personal data on the Web using a new tool that Google has introduced. “Me on the Web” appears on your Google Dashboard (requires a free Google account) and can send you email alerts when the data show up.

If you have serious concerns about your reputation on the Web, offers a unique set of paid services to help alleviate negative information or, conversely, to promote a positive personal brand. The website also offers a free set of suggestions to take an active role in controlling your reputation.

And finally, a Web startup is looking to turn the control of personal data on its head.  Rather than let marketers use possibly inaccurate information about you to shape your Web experience, seeks to create a business model in which you take ownership of your data, organized into “gems,” and grant those gems to websites based on what you want them to know about you.

It's a wakeup call to be more aware of who has control of your personal data.  Keep an eye out for applications and tools that will make it easier for you to take back control.

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