All of us are very frequently asked to provide our personal information when visiting people, organizations, apps and websites. Some of these requests are arising out of important occasions like placing an order, registering for a company, entering a contest, booking tickets or visiting a hospital and many more. These are some important moments where we are willing to provide our details.

While there are other situations where we are not willing to provide our personal information as we may find it unnecessary and doable without that information like when you sign up for a webinar or a tutorial online. These are moments when we are hesitant to provide our personal details.

Despite our hesitation, we still end up providing our information in both the above situations. While, we shouldn’t be providing our information as it is a top commodity in today’s digital world and sharing such information should be based on trust not on convenience.

In any circumstance, trust always takes time to develop. Therefore, we need a better strategy to deal with information requests. Today, we’ll focus on combining common sense analog strategy with some really cool digital tools to help categorize, limit, or restrict access to our personal information.

Setting Categories, Evaluating Requests, and Sharing Different Data

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Classifying our personal data is a three-step process.

Step 1: Establish Different Categories of Requests

Earlier, I broke down examples of requests into either “important/critical” or “unimportant/noncritical.” Feel free to use your own categories, of course. The names you choose aren’t important; establishing different categories is.

Is this really an important request for you to give out your personal information?

Step 2: Evaluate Each Request for Your Personal Data

You could simply observe each request you receive for your personal information and soon you will start noticing the ones that are less important. For example- in the image given above, you are asked to subscribe to a service. This may not be a critical request instead it may just be a marketing tactic to hand over your personal information.

Step 3: Create and Have Easy Access to Multiple Kinds of Personal Data That You Can Share

If you get requests very frequently from both critical and noncritical sources then you will be needing different data to provide to those requests. You should never give out your actual phone number or email id to a stranger, choose to provide a secondary email id or number. They will still be able to reach you but not spam you.

Obtaining secondary data is absolutely legal specially in today’s digital world to guard your own privacy. We’ll start with our old friend: email.

Get a Secondary Email ID

By calling email an old friend, we mean email was started in the mid-1960s even before the advent of internet. The fact is that most of us lean heavily on our email which is nothing short of miraculous.

Each one of us should be maintaining at least two email ids to provide to unimportant websites, organizations or individuals who demand email for some reason.

Why would someone share a burner email address with you. Because they hardly ever check that account or maybe never. There could be other reasons like:

  1. Auto confirming any email verification links that are sent.
  2. Auto deleting all emails within 3- 5 days

For this service you can use Mailnesia’s service. They provide these two features and in addition to this, it’s designed to catch spam and emails you never want to see. On top of that, it’s a free service and there many others like this.

All service providers have similar set of features:

  1. You can register your burner email with any website
  2. Ease of use which includes no memorizing of passwords
  3. Auto confirmation of emails
  4. Delete spam emails after 3-5 days
  5. Spam filtering
  6. You can create a number of burner emails on the same site

A Final Thought

Now that we have discussed in detail a new strategy for online privacy and security. It is time to start practicing and categorizing your personal information.

Not to forget that we live in a world where everything is dependent on the data we give out. Be careful with your personal information.

Safe Surfing!