4 ways a privacy app protects you when a privacy policy doesn’t

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The right to internet privacy is more important than ever. As data tracking becomes routine, consumers are looking to tools like privacy apps to help guard their personal information.

According to a 2018 study from IBM, 41% of consumers don’t feel confident in a company’s ability to protect their personal details. In response to this distrust, companies and websites are drafting detailed privacy policies to help relieve users’ fears.

A privacy policy is a legal statement that discloses the different ways a company or site collects and uses your personal information. You can usually find a link to a company’s privacy policy in small print at the bottom of a site’s home page, though sometimes policies show up as pop-up windows instead. In that case, you may have to read the privacy policy and accept its conditions before continuing to browse the site.

A well-written privacy policy is designed to give users peace of mind and help establish a sense of trust between companies and consumers. Though privacy policies are supposed to be mutually beneficial, they tend to benefit companies more than consumers. That’s partly because companies are creating privacy policies primarily to comply with new laws, rather than serve their users. Governments across the globe are enacting regulations around internet privacy in response to consumers’ growing unease about going online.

For example, the California Online Privacy Protection Act requires any website that collects personally identifiable information (PII) to have a comprehensive privacy policy. And the EU General Data Protection Regulation imposes penalties on companies that don’t comply with the rules about gathering and using personal information.

As a result, most companies now have privacy policies that include the following information:  

  • The types of data they collect

  • How they collect and use the data

  • How long they store the data

  • Which parties have access to the data

  • The security measures they take to protect the data

Keep in mind that a privacy policy, no matter how extensive, doesn’t grant you more internet privacy. If you want to protect your personal information online and limit data tracking, you have to take other steps, like using a privacy app.  

Unlike a privacy policy, a privacy app can give you a more private, personalized digital experience. Consider the four different ways a privacy app can protect you when a privacy policy can’t:

1. Privacy apps are straightforward

Most privacy policies are difficult to read, let alone comprehend. They’re often long, complex, and littered with legal jargon. A 2018 study on the privacy policies of major brands like Facebook and Google found that most privacy policies run several thousand words long and take over 15 minutes to read. It doesn’t matter how thorough and candid these policies are — if they’re not easily digestible, most users won’t take the time to read them.

Privacy apps, on the other hand, aim for clarity alongside transparency. Unlike privacy policies, which are written to give companies legal protection, privacy apps are catered to the user. They outline complicated issues in a clear, direct way. After all, the whole purpose is simplicity — you should be able to understand exactly what information of yours already exists online, as well as what information you want to share and with whom.

2. Privacy apps give you control over your information

Privacy policies disclose how companies use your PII, but they don’t actively improve your privacy. A privacy policy is a passive statement that simply tells you what level of privacy to expect when using a particular site or app — and this isn’t enough for most people. According to a 2018 Acxiom survey on data privacy, 83% of consumers would like flexible privacy policies that allow them to control the types and amount of information they share.

Fortunately, that’s exactly what privacy apps do. A privacy app is designed to give you control over your private information. Unlike privacy policies, which favor companies, privacy apps put the power back in consumers’ hands. Downloading a privacy app lets you dictate your level of visibility wherever you go online. You can choose to be anonymous or not, mask certain personal details, and prohibit data tracking.

3. Privacy apps help you stay protected across the internet

Even the most descriptive and flexible privacy policies only apply to the particular app or site you’re using. Privacy apps, however, are all-encompassing. When you download a privacy app, it doesn’t just help you stay private on one platform — it protects you everywhere you go online.

When you download a regular app, you take certain risks with your privacy. Not only do you have to share personal information to set up an account, you also have to give the app permission to access certain sensitive information, like your location or contact list. Plus, you may even have to sync your app to a social media profile and agree to less than desirable privacy settings in order to use it.

What’s more, the websites you browse store cookies — small text files that contain information on your preferences — so they can gather information on your interests and location, too. These different factors can all limit your internet privacy. According to a 2018 Akamai survey on data privacy, 73% of consumers think websites know too much about them.

Using a privacy app, however, can help counteract the risks you take when researching, working, or shopping online. The all-in-one tool helps ramp up your protection on every platform, so you can stay private without limiting your activity.

4. Privacy apps give you options

Privacy policies tend to be rigid and restrictive. The average privacy policy doesn’t give you the opportunity to access the information a company stores on you, delete this information, or opt out of having your information shared with third parties.

Rather than increasing your privacy, most privacy policies tell you all the ways your privacy will be limited. The information collected can include everything from the specific web pages you view to how long you stay on certain pages, plus which ads you scroll over or click on.

Privacy apps are more flexible and are designed to help accommodate your needs. The purpose of a privacy app isn’t to give you total anonymity everywhere you go, but to offer you choices. In addition to seeing how much of your personal information is accessible online, you can also choose your level of visibility on each site and app you use. Depending on your mood and goals, you may want to be private one day and exposed the next. The beauty of a privacyяяяapp is that you can change your mind as often as you want.

Privacy apps put you first

Privacy policies are meant to help protect users, but they often end up solely benefiting the companies behind them. Privacy apps, on the other hand, are designed with the user in mind. Tools like FigLeaf give you control over your personal information and let you decide how exposed you are, so you can have a freer, more enjoyable online experience.

Author: FigLeaf Team