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Privacy Versus Convenience: Are You Ok with Trade-Off in Our Digital World?

By Judi Jacobs July 11, 2019 Lifestyle

We have cameras and smart TVs in our homes. We plug our destinations into Google Maps. We speak to Siri, Google, and Alexa and allow them to listen in on our everyday activities. In a world of smartphones and smart homes, the notion of privacy has changed.

Where you eat, where you travel, and what you’re buying can all be captured and tracked. Almost all organizations you deal with, in person or online, for your daily needs are gathering data on you, with the idea that the more data they have, the more useful they can be to you.

Is It Worth It?

Whether you want your privacy tracked is a personal decision on what you are comfortable with. If you err on the side of caution, acknowledging the quantity of data collected every day can be alarming.

Although some folks are apprehensive about apps, services, and devices that collect personal data, many focus on the results of targeted marketing that make our lives easier:

  • We learn about new products and services.
  • We can quickly get directions to where we are going.
  • We can monitor our homes when we are away.
  • We can tell Alexa to order dog food from Amazon or pizza from a restaurant, and it shows up at our door.

All these things add up to a lot of conveniences that didn’t exist 20, 10, or even five years ago. People who use their phones and smart home devices for the benefit of convenience accept and understand they are trading privacy for convenience.

Protecting Personal Privacy

It is essential to be mindful of the amount of data accessed by third parties and take the appropriate safety measures for personal information. Most compromises of security arise from a lack of education. A little awareness will go a long way in helping to protect personal information.

Here are some proactive steps you can take to manage your privacy:

  • Check social media, digital assistant apps, and browser privacy settings. It is up to you to decide how much information you want available and to whom.
  • Digital assistants are always listening and recording your commands, which is part of the user agreement for the device when you opt into voice activation, but you can mute the microphone when you want conversations to be private.
  • Delete any stored data on your digital assistants. Most services allow for this option, but you must turn off the default settings.
  • Avoid linking sensitive information, such as your contacts and calendar, to third-party apps.

Because the nature and extent of access to our movements, shopping habits, browsing tendencies, and friends is more significant than ever before, there is a continually expanding learning curve for the continued protection of personal privacy for third parties and consumers.

Reputable companies will be aware of the tremendous responsibility they have to safeguard our data, but others will be cavalier. You will always have to monitor your privacy and decide how it should be shared and with whom.

Are you concerned with online privacy? Do you shy away from using voice assistants because you are worried about someone always listening in on your conversations? What do you do to help protect your personal information? Please share with our community and let’s have a conversation.

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The Author

Judi Jacobs is a lawyer-turned-tech nerd and the founder of The Tech Wizard. As a tech coach and consultant, Judi works with adults 50+ and small businesses to help make technology more user-friendly through small group classes and one-on-one training. Learn more at

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