Six Questions to Ask About Privacy Agreements

You lock your front door to protect your home and belongings. You lock your car doors to protect it from theft. You might use a padlock to secure your gym locker and another lock to protect your bike. But are you taking the same precautions to protect your personal information?

Every day our privacy and personal information is under assault. Our private data is not only valuable to us; it can also be valuable to others. Our personal information should be guarded as carefully as our home and car. Yet we often hand over our private data and forgo our privacy in order to download an app, for discounts, and sometimes just to be polite.

Before agreeing to a license agreement, ask yourself these six questions:

  1. Is the value I might be getting worth handing over my personal information? Is the discount or access to services worth your privacy?
  2. Who is asking? Best practice is to only share your information with reputable organizations. Beware that they are who they claim to be (IBM vs IBM Co.). Sometimes a company’s name may sound familiar, but they are actually fictional (Initech, Hooli, Acme Corporation). Do your research and be sure you know who you are dealing with.
  3. What information am I being asked for? Is my Social Security Number or other personally identifiable information needed in order to complete the transaction or use the service? If not, you may want to reconsider accepting the terms. Sometimes an app needs access to your location, contacts, or other data in order to properly function, but be cautious of what information the app accesses.
  4. Who will my information be shared with? Your personal information may be used for marketing purposes or sold to third parties.
  5. Will my information be saved or processed in another country? Consumer protection laws and privacy regulations vary by country. Confirm where data is stored and the security standards of those countries before accepting the terms.
  6. Who owns the data I share? Some user license agreements take ownership of your personal information, including photos, files, or your existence as a potential consumer.

April is Privacy Awareness Month. In recognition of that, Cambridge Trust Company will provide information and resources to help you protect your personal information.