Most people never read these terms, and have no idea what is hidden behind the curtain of thousands of words. What sort of data are these companies collecting, and what do they do with it?
Remote work is here to stay
We can thank technology for the opportunity to work remotely. All this would not have been possible forty years ago. Not even thirty or twenty for that matter. The internet and all its possibilities have led us to the point where the location is irrelevant. How? We replaced talking face to face with video calls, small talk with chat rooms, managers with management platforms.
All this is great, but it requires online products. Some are free, some you pay for. But the most expensive ticket of all is the one most people don’t think about.
They claim they respect your privacy, but you’re not really sure how. They say some of the data they collect may be given to third parties, but you’re not sure which data and third-party they are talking about. Some platforms offer additional links for further reading. It seems reading and understanding all the terms we agree with would take as much time as a part-time job.
What is this third-party mumbo jumbo stuff anyway? I honestly didn’t know much about it, so here’s what I found:
- 1st party data - information collected directly from the audience or customers (behaviors, actions or interests demonstrated across the website(s) or app(s)). Used to get to know the user better and personalize their experience while using the product. So far, so good.
- 2nd party data - 1st party data purchased directly from another company. Companies form relationships and exchange information about you, so they can sell their products better. Used to get to know and reach audiences they don’t have access to. This raises some flags. Which companies are selling the data they collect from you? To whom?
- 3rd party data - some companies buy 1st party data from other companies, sort and categorize them, and then resell them. Sounds bad? That’s because it very well can be.
Danger and intervention
So, the governments stepped in. 2018 brought us GDPR, while 2020 is about to give us CCPA.
Put very simply, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information from individuals who live in the European Union (EU).
On the other hand, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), creates new consumer rights relating to the access to, deletion of, and sharing of personal information collected by businesses.
What does this mean? That you should be able to control and choose which information you’re willing to share, and when this is no longer the case, have it all deleted.
Personal data control
A friend of mine would get spooked up and shocked every time we would talk about something, and a few minutes later, an ad would pop up in his feed, offering him that very product we just spoke about. He would rant about spying and intrusion, but when I suggested he could simply turn off the access of an app to his phone’s microphone, I got an unexpected answer. He said sometimes those ads are actually useful to him because they’re specifically tailored to his needs. A product he would never come across could show itself to him, and he didn’t want to lose that possibility.
And that’s how most services work. ActiveCollab, for instance, collects information on its users’ activity in the app. By doing so, we know which parts of the app are most used and how. All these details are summed up and then reviewed, along with all the feedback, when features are being created or enhanced.
We don’t even use remarketing tags within the app. Meaning that if you use ActiveCollab, we won’t chase you around the internet and social media with ads. There’s not one tracking script in our app. Most importantly, we do not sell data to third parties. We also offer a self-hosted version of our software if you want to be in control of data security and privacy.
Just because there are good guys out there, doesn’t mean you should throw caution out the window. Especially when it comes to business! Security issues are real, and classified data can get out there and used against you. Some firms use a VPN connection, some don’t.
Zoom got banned in many countries and institutions precisely because of security issues, and no wonder. Anyone could’ve dropped in on any call at any time, email addresses, and passwords leaked, sensitive information reached easily. Surely, no one agreed to that, and no one could trace and delete what already got out of hand.
In most cases, paranoia shouldn’t occupy your mind. As a hacker once said, “Do you worry about trained martial artists beating you up in the street?” They roam freely and could beat you up if they wanted to, but you’re probably not their target.
If someone knows what you’ve been clicking, what your location is, and what type of vacuum cleaner you like to use, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. However, if you’re dealing with classified data that could cause problems if it got into the wrong hands, be careful. Take the time to read those policies and terms. Invest in data security. Leave nothing to chance.