Infographic: How Many Times a Day Americans are Tracked

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According to privacy expert Rebecca Herold, new technologies promise to make our lives easier, save us money or connect us to our friends. At what cost? Infographic aims to educate consumers on everyday privacy risks.

Privacy and security expert Rebecca Herold (a.k.a. The Privacy Professor) has issued a new infographic to help people understand some of the many ways in which their personal information and data is collected each day.

The infographic follows an average person as he wakes, visits a friend at the hospital, goes to work, leaves for lunch, spends the evening at a party and then heads home. It describes, through a collection of graphics organized around a sundial shape, the many ways this average person unknowingly shares information about his whereabouts, habits, purchases and more.

Several examples of this data collection illustrated in the infographic include:

  •     Smart appliance vendors and utilities that learn what time a homeowner begins his day with a home-brewed cup of coffee or a 15-minute shower
  •     Hospital surveillance cameras capture visits, and doctors use wireless devices to control patient medical devices.
  •     Employer-issued RFID card tracks an employee’s every move while at work.
  •     Taxi- and street-view security cameras capture images.
  •     Mobile apps tied to video cameras and using facial recognition spot smartphone users and send coupons.
  •     Mobile payment devices process payments and share information with third-party marketing groups.

The danger, according to Herold, is not necessarily in the collection of this data. Rather, it’s in the sharing and use of that data.

“We welcome new ‘smart’ systems, mobile apps and personal communication devices into our lives because they promise to make our lives easier, save us money or connect us to our friends,” said Herold. “What we don’t often realize is that most of these technologies are collecting data about us and then sending that data to an untold number of vendors, third-party partners and data bureaus. Big Data analytics are then used to gain insights into our lives in ways never before possible.”

Anyone using computing devices, smartphones, mobile apps or visiting surveilled locations should be aware of consequences that may arise from the sharing and analysis of all the collected data. Could information captured on a lunchtime taxi ride, for example, be used by marketers to build and sell a consumer profile? Or worse, by employers to make assumptions that lead to a job loss; by banks to make decisions that lead to losing a home loan; by law enforcement to incorrectly identify someone as a criminal?

“It’s important for each of us to understand how our participation in even mundane, everyday activities leaves a data trail, adding information about us into what is called the Internet of Things,” said Herold. “Until we understand this, we can’t begin to take the necessary steps to protect our own personal data.

“The simple fact is no one else is going to guard our personal information as effectively as we can. In fact, as this information becomes more valuable, and is more widely used, it becomes a greater challenge for businesses and other organizations to implement effective privacy controls.

“Everyone must ensure the organizations we do business with have strong privacy protections in place by asking them how they protect and share our information. Education is the first step toward this kind of vigilant protection of our privacy.”

According to Herold, the creation and distribution of the infographic is part of an ongoing effort to provide that education to the general public, consumers and businesses alike. Whereas all persons need to take charge of their protection by reading privacy policies and asking questions of businesses and organizations before they bring new technology into their lives, businesses, too, need to build privacy controls into their services and products. They must also make their employees and business associates aware of how to protect the information they work with on a daily basis.

In addition to the infographic, Herold has created a fun and illustrative privacy-education activity called the Privacy Professor Security Search to educate employees on the security and privacy risks that may exist inside their workplaces. Herold also works with others in her data privacy and security community to promote increased consumer and business awareness of protective privacy actions on Data Privacy Day, celebrated annually on January 28.

Herold’s infographic is available at http://www.privacyguidance.com/einfograph.html. Security Search is available at http://www.privacyguidance.com/security_search.html.

ABOUT REBECCA HEROLD

Rebecca Herold is an Iowa-based information privacy, security and compliance expert who has provided services, tools and products to organizations in a wide range of industries, with emphasis in healthcare and energy sectors, throughout the world for over two decades. Rebecca is widely recognized and respected and has been named one of the “Best Privacy Advisers in the World” multiple times in recent years by Computerworld magazine, most recently ranking #3 in the world in the last rankings provided. Additionally, in 2012 Rebecca was named one of the most influential people in online privacy by Techopedia.com. For more information, visit privacyprofessor.com and compliancehelper.com.

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Kelly Moore
KMC (for Rebecca Herold)
(515) 720-9670
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Kristen Kessinger
ISACA
(847) 660-5512
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