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Taking Responsibility for Your Privacy Part 1: Personal Responsibility

In this two-part series, we discuss ways in which you can take responsibility for your privacy. In part one below, we focus on your personal responsibility. In part two, we’ll talk about our social responsibility with respect to privacy issues.

“The fact is that “responsibility”, the very word, has to be broken into two words. It means “response ability”. And response is possible only if you are spontaneous, here and now. Response means that your attention, your awareness, your consciousness, is totally here and now, in the present. So whatever happens, you respond with your whole being. …This ability to respond is responsibility.” Osho

Cultivating mindfulness and making conscious privacy choices enables us to take responsibility for our privacy. Mindfulness means keeping tuned in to the present and fostering an ongoing awareness of what situations you are presented with. It’s a shift that gets you out of automatic habits. When we act without thought, we are abandoning our responsibilities.

Personal responsibility involves taking responsibility for your own actions, choices and responses to others and situations. Responsibility helps you assert control where you can and better deal with the things you can’t control. You can empower yourself by taking responsibility for yourself and your privacy, data security and online reputation. As I’ve written about before, by taking intentional and deliberate actions to lead a more purposeful life you can live by design with privacy by design.

Focus on the benefits

Asserting your personal responsibility can be difficult. It requires consistency and commitment. That’s why we tend to avoid it – especially when the going gets tough. To stay on track, focus on the benefits of being accountable for your privacy. You might feel a sense of accomplishment which includes a positive emotional experience or fulfillment of your drive to succeed. You might find that taking responsibility for your privacy is linked to your personal growth and finding your purpose. You might start to enjoy the feeling on not being dependent on or blaming others for your situation. Congratulate yourself each time you act with maturity and focus when presented with a privacy choice.

Resist Apathy

Sometimes we feel stuck. Privacy feels completely out of our control. In a state of confusion or hopelessness over what we can do to protect our privacy, we allow fear or even apathy to take hold. Don’t avoid the issue of privacy altogether or assume that privacy is a lost cause. Look to privacy advocates to educate and inspire you to be passionate about protecting your privacy.

Even if we cannot control the entirety of a situation, we can participate in the process responsibly. A small act, such as first examining why privacy matters to you is a step in the right direction.

Act Responsibly

It’s up to each of us individually. When you take personal responsibility, you can focus on the present and being consciously aware. Your “response ability” includes your ability to cultivate privacy awareness and the ways in which you make mindful privacy choices.

Recent articles have focused on Facebook’s acknowledgement that users are confused about social media privacy settings and the new “privacy dinosaur” which prompts users to confirm the desire to share content publicly. Some have argued this move is designed to disproportionately shift privacy responsibility to users. At best this is a shared responsibility. Promoting personal responsibility and awareness of our options as we engage on social media is beneficial. However, we should remember that companies still have a responsibility to follow privacy laws, regulations and best practices.

Taking personal responsibility for your privacy is a good first step. Building your awareness and participating mindfully is the just the beginning. You can then model this sense of personal responsibility for your privacy to your friends and family. And once you have established the foundation of personal responsibility, you can branch out to become socially responsible about privacy.

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