Consumers Protect Privacy Across Multiple Areas with Unified SafetyPlan Service

Increasingly, the everyday activities of consumers are being recorded, measured, and leveraged by businesses for transactional advantages. On an average day, a consumer may unknowingly reveal thousands of data points through financial services, online interactions, communications channels, utilization of modern health care options, and personal activities. Consumers are rarely given the ability to “opt-out” of such tracking and, where such control does exist, the process remains concealed, tedious, and potentially ineffective.

For example, the social networking utility website Facebook.com suffered criticism in May 2010 over its failure to provide individual users with simple privacy tools, prompting founder Mark Zuckerberg to admit the settings had “gotten complex” for users. Thereafter, the company was forced to redesign its privacy controls, announcing to consumers, “social network Facebook has said it will offer a one-stop shop for privacy settings in response to user concerns. The new system will offer users one privacy page with a list of all their applications and a choice of three settings for each.” Zuckerberg also said, “We don’t sell your information and we have no plans to.” Accordingly, many consumers took action to restrict their information and protect their Facebook privacy status.

Yet, in October 2010, consumers were shocked by the Wall Street Journal headline, “Facebook in Privacy Breach; Top-Ranked Applications Transmit Personal ID’s.” The WSJ investigation revealed that many of the most popular applications, or “apps,” on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. were transmitting identifying information. Facebook Inc. was, in effect, providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names, to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies.  As the Wall Street Journal specified, “the issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook’s strictest privacy settings. The practice breaks Facebook’s rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users’ activities secure.”

A follow-up article by the Wall Street Journal in October 2010, “Facebook Inc. Says User Data Sold To Broker“, revealed that sales of personal user data by Facebook Inc. undermined Zuckerberg’s credibility among users. As demonstrated, even the most vigilant consumers who took action to secure their Facebook profile privacy status were vulnerable to data leakage and exploitation. To help consumers manage these responsibilities, SafetyPlan offers an online service that tracks privacy across six domains – health, online, credit and banking, your devices, your physical property, and in your community – and enables consumers to manage risk. (more…)

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