Privacy and your data

When free isn't free

When was the last time you did a privacy review?

Chances are that many of the online services you use are free. But behind the scenes these services are tracking you and mining your data in order to help the company that provides the service turn a profit. In these cases, “free” isn’t free.

Over the past year, users are learning that their data is being harnesses and sold, as reports have come out that raise awareness of data tracking.

You may feel that you have nothing to hide, so sharing your data is not an issue, but these large tech companies are selling your information and tracking you across the web. To them, you are the product.

I did a privacy review earlier this year. Looking into the services I used and learning how my data was being tracked. While it’s nearly impossible to completely eliminate the tracking and selling of your data, there are steps I took and that you can take to remove yourself as a product.

The first step I took was to close my Google Workspace account. Google held way too much data including documents, spreadsheets, phone numbers, emails, location data, and who knows what else.

I also stopped using Google’s search engine and Chrome browser. I use Apple’s Safari browser exclusively now, which blocks trackers, and the default search engine is set to DuckDuckGo.

My documents now live on my computer and I switched email services to HEY, which is a privacy-focused email platform that doesn’t harness or sell your data.

As a website designer, I urge my clients to use services that don’t capture their users’ data. For example, I recommend Fathom analytics over Google Analytics. Fathom is privacy-focused and doesn’t sell any user data.

With a little work, you can and should, take back control of your data. As we have been learning how big tech has been tracking us, other companies have been building privacy-focused platforms. Reviewing the services you use and switching to those that don’t track you gives you control over your data.

Don’t be a product.

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