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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > February 2022 > How to Take Back Control of Your Data

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How to Take Back Control of Your Data

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office recognized Data Privacy Week last month (January 24-28, 2022). In an effort to help Ohioans protect their personal information, the office is reprinting below an edited version of an article published by the National Cybersecurity Alliance.
From social media to online shopping, our lives and the digital world become more and more intertwined. Yes, the digital world provides convenience, but it’s important to know how to protect personal data to ensure that it’s being used the right way by the right people.
In the latest consumer privacy survey from technology manufacturer Cisco, 86% of individuals say they care about their data privacy. That said, even the most savvy digital users can have trouble managing their data.
Here are a few steps to better manage your personal information and make informed decisions regarding your data and how it is used.
Understand the privacy/convenience tradeoff
Many apps, even before you use their services, ask for access to your geographic location, contacts list, photo album and other personal information. This data has tremendous value to businesses, allowing some to even offer you their services at little to no cost.
Consumers should decide whether or not to share their data by weighing the amount of personal information being sought against the benefits they might yield in return. Be thoughtful about who gets your personal information and wary of apps or services that require access to information that is not required or relevant for the services they’re offering.
Manage your privacy
Once you have decided to use an app or set up a new account, check the privacy and security settings on the app or website and set them to your comfort level for information sharing. Each device, app or browser may have different features to limit how and with whom you share information.
That said, with so many settings to manage, it can be very challenging to stay on top of them all. Here are some important ones to focus on first:
  • Location data: In order to provide more relevant results, many apps ask you to share your location data. Make sure you that share this information only with apps you trust and that the apps are using your data responsibly. Also, pay attention to when the app uses your location information. Many apps give you a choice to always keep your location information on, never have it on or have it on only when using the app.
  • Contacts data: Many email apps and video-conferencing apps allow individuals to automatically sync their existing contacts with their services. Again, be sure that you share this data only with trusted sources, as the data you’re choosing to share may belong to others.
  • Camera and photo data: Social media apps universally ask for access to an individual’s photo library and related camera data – which, of course, contains troves of private information. Share it with only the most trusted sources, and, through the settings, control the photos to which those apps have access.
A couple of other suggestions: Be sure to delete unused apps on your devices and keep all apps secure by performing updates.
For additional guidance on personal data, consult the National Cybersecurity Alliance’s Manage Your Privacy Settings page.
For more information about the National Cybersecurity Alliance, visit its website at For cybersecurity tips from the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section, click here.