Digital art that mentions the text: Agree to Terms & Conditions

Agree to Terms and Conditions. Are you sure?

You may have nothing to hide, but you have everything to protect.

In today’s digital world, we face it every single day. Privacy is one of those terms that says everything and at the same time nothing at all. When it comes to privacy, you often hear the following phrase: “I have nothing to hide anyway, so why bother.” When it comes to privacy information, by definition it is sensitive information, or at least that is how you should always treat it.

But when we think about it we all rather often decide against our own privacy protections. Be honest, how many times have you read the privacy statement the last time you visited website? If you don’t, then you therefore don’t know what you are accepting nor how others are handling your data.

Your name and address by themselves may not be very interesting, but combined with passport number identity fraud is close.

A digital drawing of several people collecting data about a person logging on to a website on a laptop.

Why are Terms and Conditions important? 

Terms and Conditions, at their core, protect user rights. They provide insight into the data collected by companies and how it’s used. When you agree to these terms, you consent to the collection and processing of your personal information, among other things.

Without these Terms and Conditions, companies would be free to collect and use data without consent, putting your privacy at risk.

The greatest lie on the internet

When it comes to our digital identity, the biggest lie on the Internet is the following: “I have read and understood the Terms & Conditions.” More than 90 percent of users agree to multi-page terms and conditions in a split second, according to research, thus giving the receiving party the rights over their data.

A digital drawing of a family that thinks they have their privacy terms arranged for each individual of the family.

Whether you visit a website, shop online, download an app, download a file or game; your privacy always needs to be questioned.

Of course, I don’t want to advise you to go through all the Terms and Conditions of every website, but I do urge you to be very vigilant. At which website do you leave what data? And why?

Sociale media en privacy

Social media is probably the most debated topic when it comes to protecting our privacy. We often point to the social media companies when things go wrong again or when we are concerned about our privacy. But actually we have ourselves entirely to blame for the fact that they know everything about us. We are too often too careless. The Internet does not forgive or forget. Be careful what you share!

5 ways to take back control

Within your social media account settings there is a lot you can do right now to in order to protect your privacy:

  1. Check the privacy settings of all your social media accounts and change them to ‘private’. Often the social media applications you use offer their own privacy check up.

  1. Check your phone’s privacy settings. For example, which applications all have access to your camera, microphone, photos, locations, etc. Read how to do this for iPhones and for Android devices.

  1. Limit the personal information you leave on a website. Do you have doubts about trustworthiness? Then don’t leave any information at all.

  1. Take some time to read through a privacy statement to understand all information that’s being collected about you.

  1. Don’t use the same password anywhere and use complex, unique passwords to protect your data. Password managers such as Bitwarden or 1Password can help you with this. Where possible, set up 2-factor authentication.

Conclusion: Be alert and stay vigilant

You are unique and your data is worth money. Privacy terms specify what information is collected, how it’s used and with whom it’s shared. Accepting these terms without reading them can have serious consequences. Be critical when sharing personal information, even if it seems like it’s necessary.

A digital drawing of two women and a man thinking carefully about what information they share on their various devices.

Your privacy is valuable, so treat it that way. Would you have a copy of your passport made at the bookstore when purchasing a book? Or would you tell the cashier what your home address is when paying your groceries at the supermarket? Probably not, because that feels abnormal. Think about this when you are – once again – being asked for information on a website.

Interested in more content? Read our new blog about breaking the Cyber Kill Chain.