How Data Mining Uses Your Personal Information
Virtually everyone is worried about safety on the internet. After all, the way that people interact online is new, which means there aren’t very many laws surrounding it. Moreover, while there are some obvious legal connections between the online world and the offline world, such as it being illegal to scam people out of money online, some issues are more confusing. Internet privacy is one of the more confusing things that lawmakers and internet users alike have had to grapple with, and data mining is an important part of understanding internet privacy. Here are some answers to the most common questions people have about data mining.
What Is Data Mining?
In its simplest terms, data mining is the act of collecting data on a person, usually to advertise to him or her more accurately. In fact, there are entire companies dedicated to collecting information on internet users, and the amount of information they’re able to find is staggering. Just by browsing the internet, you’re unwittingly creating a profile with online tracking companies that can estimate your age, gender, income level, interests, political beliefs, job title, and so on, down to the tiniest things such as allergies. Some online tracking companies are so good at creating profiles based on your browsing habits that they can link completely different devices as being both from the same person.
What Does Data Mining Do?
Most of the time, data mining is used to help advertisers target their demographic more effectively. For example, if you’ve been browsing vacation websites, your profile may be updated to give travel companies more marketing availability toward you. When used in this way, while it might be startling, it’s mostly harmless. Targeted advertising makes it easy for you to get advertisements that’ll appeal to you, and most people prefer relevant ads to ones that have no use to them.
However, the information contained in all this data mining can be used for sinister purposes, too. In 2015, a presidential candidate used a data company to collect demographic information on potential voters so that he could more effectively target them. It’s legal to do this kind of thing, but it did bring up questions about data mining that had mostly gone unasked. Many people are uncomfortable with the possibility of being unwittingly targeted for decisions that are much less frivolous than their toilet paper brand. Remember that if someone has connections to a data company, he or she can get information about you down to the tiniest detail.
How Can People Protect Themselves from Data Mining?
Because data mining is such an incredibly new idea in the public eye, it’s hard to tell exactly what you can do in order to keep your public information away from companies, politicians, and even just other people. Using a VPN or private browser can help do away with a significant amount of tracking that relies upon your browser information or IP address, as does turning off cookies on as many sites as possible. If you use social media or have accounts on sites that use personal information, go through the security settings every so often.
If you want to see how much information the average person can access about you, you can use PeopleFinders to get a good idea. With PeopleFinders, you can get information including your full name, address, and potential relatives just by using the reverse phone lookup, or run an entire background check just by using your full name and location. If you want to make sure you’re as safe as possible, you’ll want to make sure people can’t get this type of information, so don’t give out your phone number or your location on the internet. For even more information about how to stay safe using PeopleFinders, or to get ideas on how you can use PeopleFinders most effectively, you can read the PeopleFinders blog.
There’s not a lot you can legally do when it comes to data mining. Right now, legislations are in motion, but it’s a good idea to take common-sense measures to ensure your safety as much as possible. Make sure you go through all your privacy settings as frequently as possible, and invest in safety procedures such as a VPN or private browser. Using PeopleFinders to look yourself up frequently is also a great way to stay safe from amateur data miners who don’t have access to corporations.
Photo Credit: Chaay_tee – stock.adobe.comTags: Online Identity, Online Safety, Shopping Online
Categorized in: News