Why You Protect Your Online Identity
As more time is spent online, your identity, both online and offline, can affect your life. Your offline identity is the person who your friends and family interact with on a daily basis at home, at school, or work. They know your personal information, such as your name, age, or where you live.
Your online identity is who you are in cyberspace. Your online identity is how you present yourself to others online. This online identity should only reveal a limited amount of information about you.
You should take care when choosing a username or alias for your online identity. The username should not include any personal information. It should be something appropriate and respectful. This username should not lead strangers to think you are an easy target for cybercrimes or unwanted attention.
Any information about you can be considered to be your data. This personal information can uniquely identify you as an individual. This data includes the pictures and messages that you exchange with your family and friends online. Other information, such as name, social security number, date and place of birth, or mother‘s maiden name, is known by you and used to identify you. Information such as medical, educational, financial, and employment information, can also be used to identify you online.
Every time you go to the doctor’s office, more information is added to your electronic health records (EHRs). The prescription from your family doctor becomes part of your EHR. Your EHR includes your physical health, mental health, and other personal information that may not be medically-related. For example, if you had counselling as a child when there were major changes in the family, this will be somewhere in your medical records. Besides your medical history and personal information, the EHR may also include information about your family.
Medical devices, such as fitness bands, use the cloud platform to enable wireless transfer, storage and display of clinical data like heart rates, blood pressures and blood sugars. These devices can generate an enormous amount of clinical data that could become part of your medical records.
As you progress through your education, information about your grades and test scores, your attendance, courses taken, awards and degrees rewarded, and any disciplinary reports may be in your education record. This record may also include contact information, health and immunization records, and special education records including individualized education programs (IEPs).
Employment and Financial Records
Your financial record may include information about your income and expenditures. Tax records could include paycheck stubs, credit card statements, your credit rating and other banking information. Your employment information can include your past employment and your performance.
Where is Your Data?
All of this information is about you. There are different laws that protect your privacy and data in your country. But do you know where your data is?
When you are at the doctor’s office, the conversation you have with the doctor is recorded in your medical chart. For billing purposes, this information may be shared with the insurance company to ensure appropriate billing and quality. Now, a part of your medical record for the visit is also at the insurance company.
The store loyalty cards may be a convenient way to save money for your purchases. However, the store is compiling a profile of your purchases and using that information for its own use. The profile shows a buyer purchases a certain brand and flavour of toothpaste regularly. The store uses this information to target the buyer with special offers from the marketing partner. By using the loyalty card, the store and the marketing partner have a profile for the purchasing behaviour of a customer.
When you share your pictures online with your friends, do you know who may have a copy of the pictures? Copies of the pictures are on your own devices. Your friends may have copies of those pictures downloaded onto their devices. If the pictures are shared publicly, strangers may have copies of them, too. They could download those pictures or take screenshots of those pictures. Because the pictures were posted online, they are also saved on servers located in different parts of the world. Now the pictures are no longer only found on your computing devices.
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