Protect Your Digital Footprint.

digital footprint

“The more you of them you take, the more of them you leave behind.”

The concept of a digital footprint has existed a long time, but people still fail to understand the basics.  The data comprising your digital footprint is likely more comprehensive than you could ever imagine.  Your digital footprint is left all over the world as you carry on every day life as a person or a business.  While there are benefits to a positive digital footprint, you first need to understand the risks and scope of managing your digital footprint.

First, let’s talk through what is being generated about you.  You are tracked in real time on endless data points so that a full profile can be created for your digital person. The footprint is the first step to assembling your digital person because it is often surrendered without your knowledge or in exchange for some nominal benefit.  Also, this footprint data is easy to get.  Two major categories of data in your digital footprint are:

  1. Active – Your submissions, posts, likes, photos, genealogy, DNA. What others are submitting, posting, or liking about you.

  2. Passive – What is being collected about you as you navigate the digital world. Data points like your IP, browser, device, location, and visit frequency are a minute fraction of what is collected about you.

Given the most recent press about DNA data, your ability to control your data has grown beyond a concern.  (Read more on Bloomberg and Business Insider). It is paramount to start managing your digital footprint now.  Otherwise, they might actually build the entire digital person with your DNA data – of course I say this with some fearful jesting.  Ultimately, we should be the owners of our data, which means that we should also be able to delete the data, update, or never share our data if we choose.

Then, how do you manage your data.  Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to clean up pesky digital footprints once you have left them behind.  Start here:

  • Search: Go find what is out there about you or your company. You will quickly learn that each search engine (google, yahoo, msn) will each yield some different results or order of results.  Use them all.  Additionally, use some common misspellings or typos associated with your name to reveal additional profile information.
  • Clean: Once you have found the data, you can begin to clean up the mess. You should request removal of offensive data and pictures, correction of erroneous data, and update your preferences to deny access or sharing of any data that does not benefit you.
  • Build: Finally, measure twice and cut once. Stop surrendering all your data freely or for nominal benefits.  Stop sharing everything with the entire world.  Setting basic boundaries for your digital footprint will go a long way to preventing the burden of trying to clean up a mess again.

After you clean up your mess, you can begin to use a digital footprint to your advantage.  If you are building your business’s digital footprint, you can use data to promote your mission, charity, or product.  As a person, you can begin to use your digital footprint to share your strengths or promote personal growth by learning where you fit into new opportunities.

The Grenier Law Firm believes that education is an important part of top-quality legal services.  The excerpts and posts on this site are for educational purposes only.  We want to keep educational materials available here for you. However, you must understand that providing these excerpts and posts should not be construed as legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship between you as the reader and our authors.  Because these excerpts and posts are intended as informational, you should always seek out the appropriate legal advice before acting or not acting based on what you read here.

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