Image of secure online shopping.

Be a Data Privacy Champion

By Linda Coniglio, Director, Privacy and Information Governance

Data Privacy Week aims to inspire dialogue and empower individuals and companies to take action. Data Privacy Week is an international effort to empower individuals and businesses to respect privacy, safeguard data, and enable trust! In consideration for Data Privacy Week, we are emphasizing the importance of protecting your privacy when shopping online. Read on to learn more.

To shop online or visit brick and mortar? That is the question.

And the decision consumers make multiple times a day is shop online. How many of us are shopping online? 

By the end of 2022, it’s expected more than 263 million Americans will have shopped online. According to SageSeller and PEW Research, about 3 in 10 US adults say they are ‘almost constantly’ online, and 48% of adults go online ‘several times a day.’ 

According to Pew Research Center, more than 8-in-10 U.S. adults go online at least daily.

Americans aren’t alone in the digital shopping universe. Globally, online sales are expected to reach $4.9 trillion in 2021. By 2024, the expected, impressive total will be $6 trillion.

Whether good or bad, online shopping is here to stay – thanks Amazon! A rise in online purchases is the result of many factors – the largest being convenience and the demand for faster access to products and services (and COVID quarantine most likely).  However, the following play a large part also:

  • Increase use of smartphones
  • Online marketplaces
  • Social media and social commerce
  • IoT devices
  • Changes is shopping behaviors across generations

While online shoppers make purchases and share their personal information, hackers and scammers look to take advantage. In addition, companies themselves may collect and use this personal information unexpectedly for their own gain. Millions of people are unaware of and uninformed about how their personal information is being used, collected, or shared in our digital society. 

Read more about 7 ways to protect your personal information while shopping online.

Digital “creepiness” is a thing

Being safe while connected is just as important as being safe while shopping online. The best way to be safe while connected is to know the privacy polices of the companies with which you do business. By reading privacy policies, you’ll learn:

  • whether a product can snoop on you
  • what information is required to sign up
  • what personal data devices collect
  • how the company uses the data it collects
  • how you can control the data you share
  • if the product can be used offline

If you don’t like what you read or the company’s track record of protecting customers’ data, better to take your business elsewhere.

For many, finding the privacy policies is difficult enough; understanding them could be a herculean effort.  Thus, your superhero just might be Mozilla’s *Privacy Not Included buyer’s guide. 

The goal of this guide is to help consumers shop smart – and safe – for products that connect to the internet.  It will help you understand the questions you should ask and the answers to expect before buying a connected product. It even includes a Creep-O-Meter that allows you to share your opinion about product safety and data security.  Companies are paying attention! More and more consumers are using this guide to buy products from companies that show they value privacy and security.

To be a privacy champion, be smart. Give extra thought to security and the company’s track record before sharing your personal data. You can empower a culture of privacy.

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