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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How to Take Consumer Privacy Concerns into Your Own Hands

Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, explained in front of Congress and representatives from Apple and Google that "consumers have a fundamental right to know what data is being collected about them. They have the right to decide whether they want to share that information, and with whom they want to share it and when."

As a company dedicated to protecting consumers' online privacy through our VPN service, we wholeheartedly agree with Franken.

Yesterday's congressional hearing is the result of widespread concern about location data and its threat to consumer privacy. Although companies such as Apple and Google have no overtly nefarious reasons for collecting data, location information does bring up questions about how consumer privacy is protected. Claims that collecting data through Wi-Fi hotspots and nearby wireless towers actually benefits customers – for example, it helps them find nearby businesses – may be valid. But customers likely want to decide how their information is revealed, and when.

There are ways that consumers can take matters into their own hands. For example: Users can opt out of location share on their mobile devices. According to Alan Davidson, Google's Director of Public Policy, users can turn off the location share option if they don't want the location services their devices provide.  In general, you should also use a VPN service.  Users who have a VPN account can protect their right to privacy by turning public Wi-Fi connections into secure hotspots. Furthermore, GoTrusted also uses strong encryption and hides users' IP addresses to obscure their location for additional security and privacy.