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UFC Que-choisir, the French consumer association mentioned in the first part of our article, has also tried to warn consumers with the “Je ne suis pas une data” (I am not a data) campaign.

The campaign includes a reminder of the right to access and delete data, as well as a series of tips for using the Internet (caution when using social networks and surfing in general, strong passwords, alternative search engines, etc.). However, we have seen that the right of access and deletion do exist, but that in reality it is difficult to implement due to the reluctance of the majority of sites.

An unfulfilled contract of trust

The fundamental rights of consumers are based on a contract of trust that is currently not respected.

  • Consumers should be clearly and accurately informed about the essential characteristics of the product or service they are about to purchase.
  • General terms and conditions should be easily accessible and understandable.
  • Consumers should be able to choose what data they share and for how long that data remains available to the merchant.
  • Consumers should be able to withdraw their consent within a sufficiently long legal period without having to justify their decision.

Currently, this is clearly not the model offered on merchant sites.

For now, careful browsing remains the only solution. The most frequently cited principles are:

  • Check the reputation of the merchant site: consult customer reviews, make sure the company is listed in professional directories, check the presence of all mandatory legal notices on the site, etc.
  • Carefully read the site’s terms and conditions and privacy policy.
  • Use a secure payment method (for example, a bank card with a strong authentication system).
  • Avoid giving out your banking details by email or telephone.
  • Do not click on suspicious links received via email or instant messaging.
  • Update your web browser and antivirus software regularly.

However, reading the terms and conditions of each website is extremely time-consuming, and even these measures are not enough to guarantee the protection of our data. Some go even further and completely customize their tools, removing all social networks and the most popular browsers such as Google – one of the biggest data collectors.

Partial and restrictive technical solutions for users

Without going that far, there are some more accessible tools.

  • Using a virtual private network (VPN) creates a secure, encrypted “tunnel” that guarantees the security and confidentiality of the connection by masking IP addresses.
  • The Onion Router (TOR) browser provides almost complete anonymity. A network of encrypted layers hides the user’s origin.
  • Some search engines, like DuckDuckGo, pledge not to collect any data themselves. But of course, even if the browser doesn’t, once you leave it to visit a site, that site won’t have the same policy.

However, these methods require slightly more advanced use of Internet tools than the average user, or expense (purchasing a VPN subscription). Having to pay to protect your privacy may seem excessive…

Right now, the problem seems difficult to solve. Companies want our data, and we’re not ready to stop our current consumption of the Web. We can only hope that the powers that be will introduce stricter regulations on data collection; the European Union is undoubtedly the most advanced in this respect.

Come back in April for our next theme: deepfakes. In the meantime, if you have a movie, series, software or e-book to protect, don’t hesitate to contact one of our account managers for our services; PDN has been a pioneer in cybersecurity and anti-piracy for over a decade, and we’re sure to have a solution to help you. Enjoy reading and see you soon!

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