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Allstate’s “Hidden World of Data” Campaign Highlights Gaps in Data Security

Allstate recently launched a consumer education initiative to help customers better understand how their data is shared. The “Hidden World of Data” demystifies how our digital footprints can lead to vulnerability, from sharing on social media, location services, online shopping, and more.

“As data sharing becomes a part of everyday life in today’s increasingly digital world, when managed appropriately, it can be incredibly helpful to consumers,” said Allstate head of consumer innovation and design Nicolette de Guia in a press statement. “Data sharing provides us with many benefits and conveniences – from using apps to avoid traffic and uploading photos to stay in touch with friends. Allstate wants consumers to continue enjoying these benefits of data sharing while ensuring they’re doing it in a smart and safe way for themselves and their family.”

The campaign didn’t exactly launch without some of its own glitches. According to the Observer, Allstate promoted a poll from Today show tech correspondent Katie Linendoll on Twitter, asking users how they create passwords, which inadvertently came across as a means to mine personal information.

“Our intent was to educate and empower consumers on the importance of a strong password to protect their personal information, not for them to share that information on social media,” a spokesperson from Allstate said to the Observer.

Despite the backlash, the survey procured some rather astonishing results. Only about half of Americans understand that activities like downloading an app or uploading photos to social media contribute to their digital footprint. Despite being somewhat knowledgeable on personal data protection, half of Americans have had their personal information compromised online with 37% having unauthorized charges on their bank statement.

The Cambridge Analytica fiasco has awoken the American public to how valuable their data is and how it can potentially be misused. After all, it’s no longer about the information consumers are voluntarily giving up. Most intermediate Internet users know that their online activity is being tracked, usually via cookies, and used for advertising and marketing purposes – but that’s about all they know. A majority of these people don’t know just how much of their online data is being collected and is flowing through the online advertising ecosystem.

There are very few efforts seen to take on companies about data privacy concerns. What is possible though is to bring such companies under regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that seeks to bring transparency on how the user’s personal data is processed and protected. As users, we can become more conscious while granting permissions to apps or agreeing to the privacy policy.

Allstate’s campaign highlights that data is a shared responsibility between the consumers and the companies, but is still up to us to decide whether the service we are seeking is worth the price of our personal data.

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