As we’ve written about several times before, privacy, identity theft, and ethical issues should be taken more seriously by people. Many of us are too trusting or careless in the way that we provide personal information — and this can come back to haunt us.

In the Sunday March 31 New York Times, two articles on this topic are worthwhile reading.

Somini Sengupta writes about Letting Down Our Guard with Web Privacy and makes this observation: “Say you’ve come across a discount online retailer promising a steal on hand-stitched espadrilles [shoes] for spring. You start setting up an account by offering your E-mail address — but before you can finish, there’s a ping on your phone. A text message. You read it and respond, then return to the Web site, enter your birth date, click “F” for female, agree to the company’s terms of service, and carry on browsing. But wait: What did you just agree to? Did you mean to reveal information as vital as your date of birth and E-mail address?Most of us face such decisions daily. We are hurried and distracted and don’t pay close attention to what we are doing. Often, we turn over our data in exchange for a deal we can’t refuse.”

Shoppers were given two options: A $12 discount card in return for some privacy data and a $10 discount card without the privacy data. 90% selected the $12 discount!!

Image by Jason Lee for the New York Times


Natasha Singer writes about “An American Quilt of Privacy Laws, Incomplete and says that many “technology experts view the patchwork quilt of American privacy laws as more of a macramé arrangement — with serious gaps in consumer protection, particularly when it comes to data collection online. Congress should enact a baseline consumer privacy law, says Leslie Harris, the president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a public policy group that promotes Internet freedom. Many Americans are aware that stores, Web sites, apps, ad networks, loyalty card programs, and so on collect and analyze details about their purchases, activities and interests — online and off. Last year, both the United States and the European Union proposed to give their citizens greater control over such commercial data-mining. If the American side now appears to be losing the public relations battle, it may be because Europe has forged ahead with its project to modernize data protection. When officials of the United States and the European Union start work on a free trade agreement in the coming months, the trans-Atlantic privacy regulation divide is likely to be one of the sticking points, analysts say.”


19 Replies to “Do YOU Provide Too Much Online Information About Yourself?”

  1. The information in this post should not surprise me but for some reason it does. I always think I wouldn’t provide any type of personal information on the Internet but I do without thinking twice about what I am sharing and with whom. Many people may not be posting their social security number or home address but sharing birth dates or emails can be harmful to one’s privacy. As Internet users, we need to be cautious of what we share.

  2. When I first read this article, I answered the question of the title in my head. No, of course I do not share too much information about myself online. But then as I continued reason, I realized that I do fall into the common trap of supplying my birth date, my email, and my gender, just thinking that it is okay. Students need to be careful, especially at a young age of the information they are providing on the Internet. This article made me a lot more cautious.

  3. I definitely provide too much private information about myself online. I don’t think we realize how much personal information we are giving away. Just giving an email address, phone number or credit card number can lead to identity theft. There should be better privacy settings online. Personally, I like shopping online because it’s efficient, but at the same time, it’s more dangerous. You don’t really know who is looking at your information and that’s a little scary. It’s important for everyone to realize that online shopping is not safe, and hopefully, the privacy laws will change. I will definitely be more cautious when I’m shopping online, and I hope others do as well.

  4. Most websites today require someone to log on with a unique username and password. After reading this post, I can’t help but to think how much private information I gave to Word Press so that I could comment on blogs or create my own.

    Looking at the cartoon published in the blog, I had to laugh. It’s true that people would voluntarily give up more private information in order to receive a greater discount. It is important to realize that private information is no longer private if you give it out to a website or a store. It is important to make sure when you give credit card information to a website that the website is safe and secure.

  5. I agree with this article that many online users give out too much personal information even if they do not realize they are doing so. You can be filling out what you think is a harmless survey which asks you for your email, gender and date of birth meanwhile, you don’t even know who is receiving this information. I also agree that people get distracted easily with their cellphones or whatever they are doing while they are on the web which isn’t good either because you may not even remember what you just agreed too if you get preoccupied with something else. I think people have to take more precaution when giving out information whether you think it is harmless or not. Make sure to read everything on the web before filling something out because once you give info out chances are your not going to be able to take it back.

  6. I definitely agree with this article. I have given out too much information about myself online. A lot of people do it without even realization what they are doing. We do it without even thinking how personal this information is. This has definitely got me thinking about what I share online. I need to be more careful and what I’m typing or signing up for. The internet has made the sharing of information easier, but this type of information isn’t meant for the whole world to see.

  7. Yeah when it comes to online sites I believe I am quick to give away email addresses, date of birth, and etc. I feel like I do it so often on sites I know I can trust so it has become a habit not to think twice about it. Also I have never read a company’s terms of service before. One time I read part of one but they are just too long. I never really think anything bad could come from not reading it.

  8. I think this is true. Many of us I clouding myself don’t really think before we fill out information on the Internet when it comes to buying simple items or even filling out questionnaires. We should try to be more aware of how we decided to share our information.

  9. After reading this article it reminded me of all the times I was asked for my personal info. I will now be more cautious to make sure I don’t give out to much information to just any source.

  10. I agree with everything in this article. Americans are not cautious enough when it comes to giving out their personal information but I do think recently with all the awareness coming forward about privacy online, some people have smartened up. I know I do put my information in different websites but only if it is a site I trust. I wouldn’t be giving away my birthday, address, etc. to some random website just because they have a good sale or discount. There is too many weirdos and scams out there. We need think more.

  11. When I read the title of the post I immediately knew the answer to it: yes, I do. I’ve always been so trusting that if I need to sign up for a website, I do. I used to hit “accept” when Facebook app requests would come up asking for permission to use your information. About a year ago I read what the requests ask for and it shocked me. I don’t think that Facebook users realize how much their information gets passed around. SInce then I’ve been very careful about what I accept. Although it helps, Facebook itself has a lot of personal information and it can be scary to think about what they might use our information for and who sees our information on any given day.

  12. I think that as this world is becoming increasingly digital, whether we like it or not…companies will have access to our personal information… For example,one of the previous blogs talked about interior gps that follows your every move when going grocery shopping and the foursquare apps that allows people to check in virtually everywhere. Divulging too much information about oneself isn’t limited to just the emails and the date of birth. Now companies can ultimately understand the consumer behavior better than ever and track us without us realizing it…. we often leave the” location on” tool on our smartphones which makes it even easier for companies to track and “know” us on a personal level. And yes of course we would agree to terms and conditions of programs/software that facilitate our daily transactions without realizing the impact this has on our privacy.
    But is it really something we can get away from in this digital world?

  13. I agree with this article in that sometimes I am amazed by how trusting I am of random websites. I recently did some online shopping which I don’t normally do but I was looking for a specific accessory to hook up to my computer and the cheapest place I could find was a random website online. I had never hear of this website before but I wanted the accessory desperately so I went and gave them my credit card number and shipping and billing information. After I had ordered it, I did give it a second thought and felt nervous about how unsure I was with this website. I didn’t know who would be looking at my information and if it was really safe. A week later my order arrived in the mail but I realize now that I should be more careful when online shopping and not just jump into things without doing the research first.

  14. Now that I think about it, I am one of those people that never reads the “Terms and Conditions” portion of any application or agreement before I check the little box next to “Agree”. I always assume that they all say the same thing. You know, after you read one, you’ve read them all. However, that isn’t always the case. It seems like every time I log into my iTunes account there is always a pop up that asks me to download the newest iTunes software. Of course I want the new iTunes software. I want to see what Apple what possibly have improved since the last time I upgraded my software (2 weeks prior). As I go through all of the steps, I come across the Terms and Conditions part and, as per usual, I click Agree. I don’t think twice, I just click. Now, I think about how much data and personal information is on my iTunes account. For all I know, the last sentence of the Terms and Agreement section could say that I agree to allow Apple to sell my information to a third-party. I think it’s time that I actually take the time to at least skim that section.

  15. So what? An email and a birth date, amazing. You are not legally or ethically obligated to provide accurate information on any of those things. What are they going to do with that information? Sell my email address? If you’re signing up to promotional sites with your personal email then the only person to blame is you. A birthday is completely useless because 99.9% of the time I don’t receive anything even remotely close to my age in spam. And then gender. Who cares? The only thing they are getting is useless information. If they get your SSN, CC, address or something like that then you should be worried.

  16. This article really opened up my eyes to how easily I give out information online. I give out little things my like my email and date of birth and do not realize that it can be dangerous. I now see that I am a little to trusting. Also, it is so true that so many people agree to terms and conditions without reading them. They are usually very long and no one has time for that. Unfortunately, you could be agreeing to anything.

  17. I extremely agree with this article. especially with my generation, people use all the social network seems like thats everyone’s habit, it is very addicting to it. We all should very careful what we put out there. I am not a big user of all those social networks, but I do post pictures, I wasnt using those pictures to express who I am, but from other people view online, they would judge by what I have. the information we put online, it might cause consequences in the future. Think about it before you do it.

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