Digital privacy concerns have flooded headlines globally and have been at the forefront of media discussion. In the past few years, we’ve watched the Snowden revelations, Wikileaks, The News International phone hacking scandal, The Sony Hack, The Ashley Madison hack and we’ve witnessed a dramatic rise in third parties hoarding and using our data for reasons we are not always fully aware of. However, these things have also brought us The EU Data Protection Reform, The Right to be Forgotten and a sudden rise in companies improving/increasing the work that goes into protecting us. We have more reason than ever to be clever with our data and yet, most of us have never read the Terms and Conditions and blindly accept them. What good is digital literacy if it’s not implemented? Perhaps this isn’t laziness at all, though; perhaps we are simply disheartened and cynical with the current state of affairs. In the UK, we are the most watched nation in the world and between our browsing histories, financial transactions, travel cards and mobile data there is no way of escaping the eye of surveillance or the risk of a breach. It is no longer a case of “if it happens to me”, it’s “when it happens to me.”

Trustev recently found that out of 1,000 Millennials, 88% of them did not trust Tinder, and only 22% trusted Snapchat. Yet, they still use the apps. It is well known that specific companies know far more about us than is necessary. So why don’t we just stop using them? They’ve become so ingrained in our daily routine that it’s difficult to delete them, and when we haven’t personally been affected by a hack or a breach it’s easy to bury our heads in the sand. Atomik Research surveyed over 2,000 16 to 35-year-olds and uncovered that “a quarter accessed more than 20 different password protected websites. Forty-five percent said they only changed their passwords when it was required and only six percent felt their data was secure based on the password policies of the websites accessed.”

There are some instances, however, where our public data literacy has resulted in tech giants altering their ways. Apple products know nearly everything about us and recent iCloud hacks highlighted that the devices are not as secure as they could be. Wired reporter Mat Honan further emphasises the flaws in their systems with his article ‘How Apple And Amazon Security Flaws Led To My Epic Hacking.’ Since the breaches, Apple has changed their marketing tactics and privacy policy to sell us on the idea that they now wish to know as little about us as possible. It seems as though an environment has been created in which companies allow us to build up a dependence on them and their services, only to gradually tweak their Terms and Conditions to gather more of our data. But this is gradually changing for the better. Most of us know what risks come with the amount we reveal through our devices and digital habits but what do we really do about it, if anything at all? As Forbes Writer Greg Satell points out, “privacy is not something we put a whole lot of thought or effort into maintaining, but maybe we should. We seldom realize the value of something until it’s been lost.”

We are holding a forum on Wednesday 23rd September on the importance of data literacy, join us to continue the discussion.