Guarding Your Privacy: How Companies’ Data Sharing Increases Risks


The debate about privacy has become a hot topic in today’s society. From
our daily social media interactions to online shopping sprees, we often
find ourselves sharing personal information without fully understanding
the potential consequences. Your own name, phone number, or other
personal details voluntarily given to the companies behind your
favourite platforms are then regarded as data that can be used for
enhancing the internet experience, or sold. Due to contractual
conditions hidden behind Terms of Usage, Service or any other document
most people do not even pay attention to, people may unknowingly consent
to having their information sold to third parties.

Preserve your privacy using data from investigations agencies

Accordingly to recent reports by big news agencies and other
investigations, companies in digital world have been monetizing the
personal data of their customers. This includes not just the obvious
suspects like social media giants, but also smaller businesses and data
brokers who operate largely behind the scenes. When these data are just
sold for profit, they may end in the hands of anybody, including
companies or individuals using shady or directly illegal methods to
achieve their purposes. Online identity theft is not too far from these
activities.

Beware of new identity theft : empty phone calls to get your voice

The first consequence of this phenomenon is the vast increase in scam
phone calls and text messages. A widespread example is getting a call
from an unknown number, many times without any answer from the other
side of the line, or some mechanical noises sounding in the background.
The operator behind may be listening, waiting for the opportunity to
record your voice in order to perform some audio deepfake in their advantage.

Text messages from sources claiming to be a company you have bought
products from in the past, offering you prizes or luring with money or
sexual innuendos are not infrequent either. These unsolicited
communications are often the result of your personal information being
sold to marketing companies or even criminal organizations who know how
to associate you with particular interests, since they deduced it from
the data sold to them – such as the sites you visited, your shopping
history, or subscription services.

Unknow numbers calling

Moreover, in the same fashion we referenced in a previous text
[referencia], the patterns of these activities change and become more
sophisticated over time. In recent times, it is not rare to get
addressed by an unknown number talking to you in your native language,
claiming they are acquaintances. The number may even be associated with
a foreign country, recognizable by its prefix. With the usage of LLMs
and chatbots, these opening messages can become sophisticated, and
uninformed people may fall in their nets.

Thus, financial security, personal safety and emotional health can be
endangered. Victims may experience identity theft, harassment, and even
emotional distress. The big amount of scam calls and messages can affect
trust in legitimate businesses and communication channels, making it
harder for people to discern between genuine and fraudulent
communications.

Measures to enhance privacy in your digital life

As harsh as it may sound to live in a world where personal data is
constantly being bought and sold, there are still measures you can take.
Most importantly, be vigilant about the information you share online.
Consider whether it’s absolutely necessary to provide your personal
details, especially when dealing with unfamiliar or non-essential
services. Additionally, take advantage of privacy settings and opt-out
mechanisms offered by companies to limit the sharing of your data – as
in manually rejecting cookies.

Obviously, when you get an unsolicited communication, be wary and do not
answer or talk, especially with those who do not talk, or request
sensitive information or immediate action. Legitimate organizations will
never ask you to provide personal or financial details over the phone or
text message without a previous verification. In case of doubt, it is
better to cut the communication as soon as possible.

Summing all up, the prevalence of scam phone calls and text messages is
a direct consequence of data sharing practices. By being mindful of the
information we share and taking measures to protect our privacy, we can
mitigate the risk of falling victim to these scams. Lastly, help us
build stronger data protection laws and regulations. By collectively
demanding greater transparency and accountability, we can work towards a
future where our privacy is respected and safeguarded.

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