There is much discussion in the news about the safety of your personal data. Do you know how safe your data might be? Do you know all the locations that hold your data? Don’t worry, few people do.

Protecting your personal data has never been more important. In a post-Cambridge Analytica world, the followup question is whether businesses that rely on data can assure customers their personal information is secure. Add to this mix the fact that collection of customer data became more difficult recently when the European Union implemented new privacy rules under its General Data Protection Regulation.

When it comes to the Internet and potential security risks lying in the darkness of the cyber world, consumers need understandable rules of the road.  Restrictions should be risk-based depending on the sensitivity of the data. Consumers should be able to choose how their data is used. Consumers and businesses would be better served by greater clarity and heightened levels of consumer consent.

The problem is how big technology companies, like Google, do business. Google’s consumer data-driven ads are essential to the company’s business model. Their approach to privacy stems directly from our founding mission: to organize the world’s information to make it accessible and useful.

This is a perfect example of the debate over whether tech companies should be allowed to collect personal data beyond what they need to offer a service. Tech companies say this additional personal data allows them to further personalize and enhance the consumer’s experience.  Consumer advocates, on the other hand, think this is a violation of consumer privacy.

Of course, another sharp disagreement between the industry and consumer advocates is their stance on whether a federal agency should regulate consumer data privacy.

Expectations of personal privacy in the digital era seems to vary based on age. Of all generations, millennials are the group most likely to say their data are being kept private — and by a considerable margin. Twenty-nine percent of traditionalists and 32% of Gen Xers and baby boomers feel the same about the privacy of their personal information. Traditionalists are more likely to say their personal information is kept private “little” or “none” of the time.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans feeling like it’s time to start better protecting your personal data, it might be too little too late.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.