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FaceApp Craze Raises the Question – How Protected Are You?

Posted on August 29, 2019

Recently, people have been taking a glance at what their future holds thanks to the app FaceApp, which transforms your age through the decades in seconds. But as soon as it hit national headlines as the latest craze (and wrinkled versions of your friends took over all your social feeds), data protection warnings took over the story.

These concerns were predominately focused on the company being based in Russia. The level of uproar could be seen as somewhat dramatic, seeing as many of us give the same photo permissions to major players like Facebook, as well as to random apps that do not actually need to see your photos.

“Chances are your face is already in a database somewhere, helping to train artificial intelligence (AI) to take over the world. As Adam Harvey, a privacy expert, pointed out to me over email: “Google researchers disclosed that they used at least 8 million user images to train face recognition. And Facebook researchers mentioned using at least 10 million users.” – Arwa Mahdawi, Guardian 18/07/19

Either way, the fact that data protection took over as the main headline with this highly amusing craze, shows that there is growing public concern around the topic which will affect how businesses market themselves – whether they have a fancy app or not!

Last year, the EU introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which gives EU citizens the right to be ‘forgotten’ by businesses and set a precedent for companies becoming more secure about how they use and store data.

While not in place for us quite yet, the New Zealand 1993 Privacy Act is currently being revamped so it will include new digital laws when passed in 2020.

Being based in London at the time and talking to other digital marketers in the run up to GDPR being implemented, I know how many businesses found themselves in hot water after leaving it until the last minute to update their security and digital marketing practices – so, here are my top 5 tips to stay ahead.

  1. If you sell goods or operate in Europe – comply with GDPR as soon as possible, as you could risk being fined. Use internet resources to find out how, or give me a call and I’m happy to talk it through over a coffee.
  2. Understand how your own data is being used – to truly understand how much of an issue it is, go through your phone, social media platforms, computer, and browser settings and then re-evaluate what and how you share things online. You might just be in for a surprise!
  3. Get rid of old data – it’s surprising how many companies keep a spreadsheet or an old server data file full of names, address, emails and card details – just in case it becomes useful again for some unknown reason. The act of finding and removing these files gives you a great overview on what data you actually have.
  4. Have clear T&C’s – it’s important to let customers know how their data is protected and being used by you and connected parties. This can include mentioning how platforms like Google Analytics or Afterpay use data.
  5. Change the check box – unwanted e-newsletters are usually the main data issue for people. So, confirm if current subscribers still want to be on the list and change the check box from automatically opting-in to them having the choice to opt-in.

When navigating the digital space, being aware and keeping informed is the best course of action – along with remembering to always read the T&C’s before you end up with your future self on the side of a billboard!

Written by Simon Howlett, Digital Strategist