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Careful handling of personal data and data

Be aware before you share your personal information!

Nowadays, you can find apps or other software for nearly anything you can imagine. Often these apps are free too! But usually you have to provide a lot of personal information or give the app access to other things on your phone. In this post we'll give you some more information about this, so you can be more aware of what you're doing.

Personal data is worth money

Yes, including yours! Who you are, what you do and what your interests are, are very interesting data for (online) advertisers. You will probably have noticed that if you have looked at a certain product on a website, you will see an advertisement for exactly that product when you visit another website. This has to do with the data that is collected about your browsing behavior, amongst others through the use of cookies. Online advertisers can use these cookies to identify you and know which websites you have visited before. Because they know which products you have viewed before, they can show you a targeted ad the next time you visit a website.

In addition to your browsing behavior, the personal data you share with apps or software (or even which apps or software you use) also says a lot about you. (Online) advertisers like to pay money for that information, so they have a better profile of you. You can therefore assume that, especially with free apps and software, there is a good chance that this sale of data is (part of) the business model.

Be aware of the sale of your data

Is this selling of your data a problem? Not necessarily, it depends on your views on the matter. What is important is that you are aware that your data is being sold. Of course it can also be an advantage to get targeted ads; you might be offered a good discount on that product you wanted to buy, or an advertisement for an interesting product or service that you were not yet familiar with. Disadvantages are that you are (unconsciously for you) steered in your (buying) behavior or end up in a so-called information trap (information shown to you is based on the preferences known about you, so you may no longer receive information outside those earlier preferences). In addition, it is difficult to find out exactly where your data is located and who has access to it. So you also don't know if that data is sold to malicious parties. We also do not know what will be possible with these data in, say, ten years' time. The ease with which data can be shared also means that it is extremely difficult to withdraw your permission for its use at a later stage (as far as possible), should you wish to do so.

How one views the above will be different for everyone, and that is fine.  However, it is important that you are aware of this information, so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to share your data.

What should I pay attention to?

  • If an app or software is free, be aware that in most cases you are still paying, but with your personal data.
  • Before you start using an app or software, it is a good idea to check what the makers are planning to do with your personal data. You should be able to find this information in a privacy statement or privacy policy. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires organizations to inform the people whose personal data they process about the processing activities. Although it is recommended that you read the entire statement, in some cases this can take quite some time. In any case, take the time to find the answers to the following questions: 'What does the app/software need in terms of personal data and why?' and 'Will your data be shared with third parties and if so, with whom?'
  • Despite the fact that free apps or software are often not really free, there are exceptions to this rule. These are usually projects that were started with the aim of offering a certain service in a privacy-friendly way.  Funds for these projects are raised, for example, through crowdfunding or other forms of donations. Good examples are Signal, a messaging service that is a privacy-friendly alternative to Whatsapp, and DuckDuckGo, a search engine that, unlike Google for example, does not monitor your search and browsing habits.