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Status 2022

Five very private questions

How you leak private information online without noticing anything.

Imagine a passerby going up to you in the pedestrian zone and asking you one of the following very private questions. You probably wouldn't dream of answering them. And yet many of us do exactly that day by day - without even knowing it - when they use digital services.

How big is your apartment?

That's really no one's business. But what if you happen to have one of those handy vacuum robots? As reported in the German newspaper "Die Zeit," it counts, in addition to the amount of square meters in your apartment, how often cer­tain areas get dirty and where certain objects are located. The head of the home robot company iRobot has announced, in fact, that he will soon create a three-dimen­sion­al map of customers apartments and wants to sell the data.

How is your love life?

How well do you get along with members of the opposite sex? How old was your last date? How many dates have you had in the last month? As the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" reports, the popular dating app "Tinder" stores in­nu­mer­able intimate data on your love life and transfers it onto Tinder's US servers. In the USA, the collection and storage of this data by no means occurs secretly, but with the express consent of the user in each instance.

Are you flush with cash?

Credit scoring business use comprehensive information from your digital footprint to assess whether you are creditworthy. In some cases they'll also inquire about the value of your residen­tial area or the level of education of your Facebook friends. In principle, it's a legitimate practice. For example, it gives you the advantage of, let's say, being able to buy a computer in installments from an electronic retailer without waiting all day for your credit to get approved. Instead, it only takes a few minutes. Whoever doesn't like having this option at their disposal should decide to go without the credit that comes with it.

How often do you watch television? And what do you watch?

Do you have one of those TVs that are connect to the internet? Many people don't pay attention to data protection regulations when setting up their appliances. Others don't set aside the time to read the extremely lengthy text and simply agree. As a result, they don't take advantage of possible data protection settings. As WISO, a program broadcast by German TV station ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen) has discovered, Smart TVs collect and store nearly all data in the appliance. TVs connected to the internet send the data not only from the network to the appliance, but also the other way around; from TV to manu­facturer, and to third-party suppliers as well, such as Netflix. What ex­actly is being trans­ferred here could not be identified. Yet anyone who prefers to keep their TV-watching behavior to themselves had better consider limiting the data protection settings ac­cord­ing­ly. By the way: Telekom Entertain's analysis of usage data is con­ducted in complete anonymity. Nevertheless, you can shut this off. This can be done quite simply in the Entertain Menu under "Set­tings/User Account/Data Protection."

Are you sick?

According to a study by BITKOM, the German Federal Association for Information Tech­no­logy, Tele­communi­cations and New Media, the majority of seniors (68%) look online for info on illnesses, findings, therapies and drugs. While the doctor is bound to confi­dentiality, this is by no means the case for "Dr. Google." According to reporting by German newspaper "Taz" and others, the abundant searches for information on illnesses are in this way stored in one's digital foot­print and may also end up in the hands of data brokers, who then sell this information onto someone else. As a result, insurance companies could also have access to this data. Whoever wishes to prevent this would be better off using to enter their search terms, or, for example make use of the data protection settings in Google MyAccount. Read more in our 8 privacy tips.