North East Connected

Your Data Uncovered: Which Brands Know What

Here’s a question for you, what do the NHS, Facebook and Boris Johnson all have in common? The answer? They’ve all hit the headlines recently due to data privacy concerns. 

Facebook recently revealed 533m users’ phone numbers and email addresses had been leaked as part of a hack dating back to August 2019.

Although Boris Johnson actually takes the prize for the longest data breach of the three, after it was revealed his private phone number has been online for the last 15 years.

And lastly the NHS is currently embroiled in their own data breach scandal, after it was found that their Covid vaccination booking service allows for private medical information to be leaked to anyone with basic information. 

The service lets users book their vaccination using either their NHS number or basic personal details such as date of birth and name. Meaning that anyone who possesses this information such as a friend or an employer could easily discover someone’s vaccination status – something that should be confidential to prevent potential discrimination. 

However these three cases aren’t unique, in fact far from it, they are simply the three most recent.  It can often feel as if there’s never more than a few weeks between stories of some new data breach, and no industry is safe; whether it’s Experian leaking your financial information or Bumble leaking it’s users height and weight. 

The truth is we have never been more connected with the virtual world but we have also never been so exposed. 

It can almost be compared to playing Guess Who trying to work out which brand knows what about you, and subsequently what information could potentially be at risk. 

Which is why online brand Rightly are taking the guesswork out with their latest campaign and have put together a series of data maps revealing which brands know the most about you.

The company, who offer a free data request service, looked at popular brands and websites across twelve distinct sectors including  social media, health apps, dating services and even the NHS Track and Trace service. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly the most commonly collected piece of data is your name, closely followed by your email address and then cookies and purchase information. 

However they also found that of the apps and websites they looked at almost half tracked user live location in real time, including apps like Spotify, Paypal and health app Flo. 

Even more bizarrely popular supermarket apps such as Morrisons and Asda are known to register users’ height and even store recordings or footage captured during store visits. 

And some apps even know if you have a criminal record, like Ladbrokes. 

While with today’s technology it may not always be possible for users to keep their private information private, we also shouldn’t be expected to sacrifice our privacy in order to stream a song or check into a location using Track and Trace. 

James Walker, CEO of Rightly says: “At Rightly we believe that what happens to your data should be up to you, after all it’s your personal information. Which is why it’s so important people know which apps and brands know what, so that you can make an informed decision. After all knowing who has your personal information is only half of the battle, what you decide to do about it is just as important.

Thanks to laws such as GDPR individuals have the right to ask any company to disclose what personal data they hold, ask what it is used for, and request for it to be deleted. Meaning for anyone who is constantly inundated with annoying adverts or who simply looks at the data maps of our campaign and feels uncomfortable with these brands having this information a ‘data detox’ has never been easier.”

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