Consumer Privacy

Consumer Tips: Search Engine Privacy

We have updated our much-visited Search Engine Privacy Tips in light of recent events surrounding online privacy. First, search engine encryption has become much more important for a number of reasons, which we discuss in the revised tips. Several search engines are now using encryption by default, including Google, DuckDuckGo and others. Additionally, WPF has been receiving reports from consumers about “fake” search engines containing viruses. Our new tipsheet has been refreshed to reflect these recent trends and issues.

Consumer Tips: World Privacy Forum’s Top Ten Opt Outs

Many people have told us that they think opting out is confusing. We agree. Opting out can range from the not-too-difficult (the FTC’s Do Not Call list is a fairly simple opt out) to the challenging (the National Advertising Initiative opt out can be tricky). Our hope is that this list will clarify which opt out does what, and how to go about opting out.

Health Information Exchanges in California

WPF’s new interactive map identifies Health Information Exchanges in California. A Health Information Exchange, or HIE, is technology that enables the electronic movement of health-related information among health care providers and others. HIEs are an increasingly popular way for hospitals, pharmacies, labs, and emergency room physicians to share patient information. HIEs can exchange records across one hospital, across multiple hospitals in a region, or across a whole state. If your health information is being shared through an HIE, your lab test results, medications, medical history, or other clinical information related to your health care may be included in the sharing. See more about HIEs and our California HIE Map here.

How unique are you?

How unique are you? We played with a data privacy tool today here at WPF that showed us if the combination of our birthdate and zip code made us statistically unique. The more unique you are, the more identifiable you are in a sea of supposedly “anonymous” data. This tool was developed by Dr. LaTanya Sweeney at Harvard’s Data Privacy Lab, and using it will tell you how easily you can be identified from records that may not even have your name on them.