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Honing Your Privacy Practice


Developing our privacy awareness and privacy practice is like any new skill – it requires regular and diligent exercise to improve our proficiency. Through repeated effort we can hone our privacy skills to guide our online privacy choices and make our interactions with technology more thoughtful and informed.

The Beginner’s Mind and the Fundamentals of a Privacy Practice

In mindfulness training, we start with “beginner’s mind.” This attitude enables a fresh outlook without preconceptions. This openness is extremely helpful when developing and maintaining a new skill.

With this mindset, you can work to master the fundamentals: Identify the core task and work on the foundational elements. Practice those tasks until they become comfortable, and habitual. You can the build upon these basic skills, continuing to polish and improve them over time.

The fundamentals for developing a privacy practice include learning to SEE clearly and using discernment to make effective privacy choices. Honing your privacy skills also means periodically checking in on your progress, but not getting discouraged or thinking you have “failed.” Now that we are a few months into 2015, how is your privacy practice coming along?

New Tools to Help You Hone Your Privacy Practice

1. DAA Tools

The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) recently launched two tools to help consumers make more effective choices regarding mobile privacy. These enhanced mobile choice tools allow consumers to adjust their privacy settings for individual companies or for all companies involved in the mobile marketplace. These new tools supplement the self-regulatory program for online behavioral advertising transparency and choice mechanisms

AppChoices allows users to set their preferences for data collection and use across mobile apps for interest-based advertising and other uses. This tool is now available as a free download from Google Play, Apple App Store, and Amazon Store. The second tool, the DAA Consumer Choice Page for Mobile Web, is a mobile-optimized version of the desktop Consumer Choice Page offering the same options for mobile sites. The tools were developed to provide a consistent user experience across Web sites (in “desktop” and mobile Web) and apps on a particular device.

The hope is these tools will increase consumer awareness of the DAA privacy icon

and the use of available privacy choices. Various surveys show that consumer awareness of the DAA icon remains fairly low, despite awareness campaigns.

2. Peerio Encryption App

Peerio is an encrypted messaging and file storage app for Windows, Mac, and Chrome browsers. The app clearly marks for the ‘non-techie’ user when a message is encrypted. The solution is intended to provide simple end to end encryption, is peer reviewed and open source.

3. Other Pro-Privacy Solutions

Consumer privacy companies like Abine, Wikr and Blackphone are increasingly “wooing” customers with their privacy-protective products and solutions. Companies are also incorporating these tools for their employees, especially for companies where “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies are in place, allowing employees to bring personal devices within company networks.

Companies like Apple are promoting their “privacy credentials” in an effort to differentiate themselves in the market. Other companies like AT&T are offering the somewhat controversial ability for users to pay a premium for their privacy. In certain markets, AT&T offers an Internet connection that doesn’t track tracks subscribers’ online activities but costs $29 more.

If you care about your online privacy and dispute the notion that privacy is no longer a social norm, do something proactive. Take advantage of these tools and services to develop your privacy practice. Use the techniques of mindfulness and beginner’s mind to establish the right mindset to hone your privacy skills.

As K. Pattabhi Jois, a yoga teacher in the Ashtanga Yoga lineage said:

“Practice and all is coming.”
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