/ Technology

Are you in control of your digital identity?

Eye, hand and computer

Do you ever feel as though your digital identity has run off without you? Today’s European Data Protection Day, so maybe it’s time to take control – or are you happy to leave identity breadcrumbs all over the internet?

Have you ever received annoying promotional material and wondered how they got your details?

Maybe you’ve indulged in egosurfing (yes, there is a word for Googling yourself!) and wished you could remove a piece of information?

What’s European Data Protection Day?

I’m guessing that when you woke up this morning the first thought to cross your mind wasn’t ‘today is European Data Protection Day’. So, what’s it all about? According to the Council of Europe website:

‘The aim of the Data Protection Day is to give European citizens the chance to understand what personal data is collected and processed about them and why, and what their rights are with respect to this processing.’

I doubt that sounds very exciting to many, but if privacy is something you’re concerned about then you may be keen to get a little more familiar with your rights.

The changing face of privacy

Much has changed in the field of privacy with technological developments resulting in the collection of huge amounts of data. Have you noticed how many new technologies seem to be encouraging us to give more and more away?

Just think about the trail of data you leave behind you on an average day… browsing the web, online shopping, ‘Facebooking’ your friends – the list goes on. Often we’re completely oblivious to the little identity breadcrumbs that we leave behind.

Privacy has certainly cemented itself on the agenda. It seems hardly a day goes by without a story about the addition of a new privacy feature to browsers or someone who was lost their job because of pictures discovered on Facebook.

Politically, there’s also a lot on the cards with the review of the Data Protection Directive fast approaching. Here at Which? we want to make sure that the companies you interact with are being transparent about how they’re using your data. And we want you to have control over your personal information – after all it is yours, right?

Are you bothered by how much of your data is collected on a daily basis – and would you like to know more about what’s collected and why? Perhaps you’d like companies to be more upfront about how they use your personal information?


I like to think I know how much I am giving away online – I’m careful with facebook settings, try not to leave myself logged in to too many sites, etc. But recently I’ve been reading a lot more about targeted marketing, and how much data companies can collect and use just from your browsing habits. It’s become clear that I had no idea about the amount of information they collected.

I clear my cookies far more often now. On my home computer I’ll clear out once every couple of days or so. I’m not yet sure if it’s sinister for people to know this much about me – I’m sure there are people with more interesting browser histories than mine – but it does make me feel uncomfortable.

I am not careful with it at all. I never clear my cookie or cache. In fact only few peopel will think about privacy in my country. If you left your phone number in any bank, congradulations, next week you will receive spam cell message EVERY DAY.

I experienced targeted marketing for the first time recently – it was very odd as I had previously been searching for a new rug, then – like magic – some identical rugs appeared on the next site I was looking at! It was very odd – and not very subtle! It actually almost had the opposite effect, making me think twice about buying from that company.

But I’m still confused about the actual harm that can do – it’s not personal info per se, just browsing habits. Obviously if it’s storing more private information that’s a different matter…