Skip to main content


Social Innovation

Getting personal about data

It is time we took personal data protection a little more seriously

Would you feel comfortable writing down your address or bank details and handing them to a stranger?

Probably not, right? Yet everyday millions of people willingly hand over this information, and more, online. Organisations holding our data are entrusted with keeping it safe, but consumers should take matters into their hands and get a bit more personal about data.

Who, what and where?

There are simple steps every individual can take to better protect their data. We should never assume that everything is as it seems online…

It’s important to know who runs the website you are handing data to, as fraudsters create sites to mimic legitimate companies - legitimate sites will usually end in “.com” or “” whilst a fraudulent site will appear something like “”. The same is true for “phishing” emails, which are designed to look like they have come from a bank and request you to click a link. Always check the email address - if it contains random numbers and letters, leave well alone.

You are often given the choice to provide more information than necessary. For instance, you might be happy to tell a clothing company about colour preferences, as well as your email address, to receive personalised recommendations. But, when information is requested for no clear reason, it’s a good idea to avoid giving away more than you should.

Data protection laws – the next generation

The good news for consumers is that law makers have made protecting yourself easier. Europe now has the world's strongest data protection rules. Called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU-wide law came into force on May 25, 2018, and was designed to protect the personal information of individuals. You probably noticed a slew of marketing emails asking you to allow companies to continue sending you a slew of marketing emails. Yes, that is part of it, but more importantly GDPR gives consumers the right to withhold consent for certain uses of data, access personal information from data brokers, or delete info altogether. If you want to learn more, check out the official regulations.

Data tech - an anonymous future

Tech is also offering a helping hand. The practice of anonymising – whereby personal info is converted into a form which cannot identify the individual - within cloud based big data analytics is set to grow as companies work to comply with the new laws. To make this process safer, Hitachi has developed a technology which conducts anonymization in a more secure manner.

Getting better acquainted with data protection practices, laws and technology is essential for staying safe online.