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Protecting your data privacy: 5 steps to take now

Posted at 3:43 PM, Jan 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-28 21:30:14-05

January 28 is National Data Privacy Day.

At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Monday, Cal Poly’s Information Security Office hosted a workshop for students, staff and faculty with information on how to prevent personal data from falling into the wrong hands.

The university’s information security officer, Doug Lomsdalen, shared the following 5 steps people can take to better protect their data privacy:

  1. Use an ad blocker.
    “An ad blocker blocks not only ads but also blocks code that tracks your web browsing across sites. Ad blockers are available for Firefox, Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and other major browsers.”
  2. Turn off data sharing & tracking in service settings.
    “Facebook, Google, and many large sites now allow you to turn off ad personalization and tracking in their settings. Ensure your internet service provider does not track and sell your browsing activity.”
  3. Request copies of your data.
    “GDPR and California’s 2018 privacy law require services to allow you to request your personal data on their services. Google, Facebook, and other sites support downloading your personal data and request its deletion in their settings page.”
  4. Install trusted apps on smartphones.
    “Mobile apps often include tracking code and ask for permissions allowing them to collect your phone number, location, and other mobile activity. Use only apps from reputable vendors requiring only minimum permissions to run.”
  5. Search data breach search sites for breaches of your personal info.
    “Sites like Have I Been Pwned and Credit Karma allow you to search for and monitor your information in data breaches. Delete your account or change your password for any services that are listed.”

At the California state capitol on Monday, Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) and four other lawmakers introduced a package of legislation called “Your Data, Your Way,” which would strengthen consumer privacy protections.

The package of bills includes five policies:

  1. The “Own Your Own Data Act” would ensure that a social media platform completely and permanently deletes a person’s user data if that person deletes their account.
  2. The “Family Green Light” would require social media companies to obtain a parent or guardian’s permission before allowing a child under the age of 16 to use their platform.
  3. The “72 Hour Data Breach Notification” would require companies that lose consumer data in a data breach to notify victims within 72 hours of discovering the loss.
  4. The “Future of Eavesdropping Act” would prohibit companies from storing voice data from smart speakers and using it for marketing purposes.
  5. “21st Century Monopolies” calls on Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to explore updates to federal anti-trust laws to protect consumers.