5 Unusual Ways Your Data is Being Collected
By Matt Brennan
Many people may think that they are being cautious with their personal data. They may understand not to give out too much personal information on their social media accounts, and never give their social security number over the phone.
But what they may not understand is that private information can often be collected without their knowledge. Below are five unusual ways that data can be collected on private individuals, that they may not suspect. Companies often use the technology that’s available to them to attain customer data without their knowledge.
5 Ways Your Personal Data is Obtained Without Your Knowledge
In Store WiFi usage – Many companies that offer in-store WiFi use it as a way to collect customer email addresses. This may be fairly well understood. Stores can do more than that, however. They can also track your online activity within the store. They can see if you’ve gone to Amazon, or other competitive sites to do product or pricing research. Your internet service provider can see your online activity.
GPS Tracking – It’s common for the company associated with the app you just downloaded to store your location information. The same companies that are criticized for storing this data are the same companies that are thanked when their application helps people locate their missing phone. People also become thrilled when we have the option to use certain location stickers on our social media pictures.
Your cell phone may be giving away your location at any given time. It’s a good idea to check your settings to make sure you understand the data that’s being collected by the apps that you’ve downloaded.
Cookies – It’s a word that’s commonly thrown around online but not as commonly understood. People may not understand the level of tracking that takes place for Amazon to be able to run Facebook ads for your recently viewed products. They may not understand that it requires tracking for you to not need to login every time you use the same websites.
License Plate Readers – These readers are small enough they can be placed on any piece of highway infrastructure (or in police cars). They can take thousands of pictures per minute and record the time and date that a car was seen. This information goes to a database and stored by police departments. Private companies can collect data this way as well. Many people may not know that there may be a record of everywhere they’ve driven.
Signal Tracking – Retailers can use your cell phone signal to track your path through the store. They can use this information to offer you deals and customize their offerings. It helps them to understand the path you’ve taken and the products that you’ve looked at along the way.
Conclusion – While many people in the general public may be aware of the pitfalls of social media and data collection, some of the other methods may fly under the radar. Sometimes private companies can collect data in underhanded ways. This information is generally used by companies to better target their offerings.