How you can manage your digital footprints?

If you thought managing your digital footprints would be easy. Think again. Managing your digital footprint on the Internet takes…your thought, time and effort!

We have to struggle against our own inertia in the face of convenient but privacy-eroding defaults, and against the concerted, persistent efforts of organizations who have a financial interest in persuading us to sacrifice our privacy in the interest of their profit.

You probably only have limited time and energy to devote to what seems like an incidental task, while the advertisers and publishers—well, that’s the only thing they have to do all day, and they’re pretty good at it

There are four levels at which you can choose to manage and control your digital footprints.
First. Improve your understanding of the basic issues.
Second. Develop your “basic hygiene” habits.
Third. Become a sophisticated user of your online tools and services.
And, fourth. Find and use specific privacy-enhancing tools.

Let’s learn more about each of these levels one by one.


Improve your understanding of the basic issues.

Think about the implications of everything shared on the Internet being a privacy risk to some degree.

Review the ISOC tutorials on Digital Identity and Privacy, and other sources of instructional material. Each tutorial lasts about 5 minutes and will give a great foundation when it comes to making informed choices about our unique online identities.


Develop your ‘basic hygiene” habits.

Privacy is a contextual thing. If you use different “personas” for different aspects of your online life – whether that’s one email address for work and another for home, or a one credit card for online shopping and another for everything else – it will help keep different parts of your digital footprint separate.

Be mindful about what you share via social sites and elsewhere, because that data is probably more public and persistent than you might anticipate.


Become a sophisticated user of your online tools and services. Very often, the default settings for browsers, devices and apps are set to disclose, rather than secure, your personal data. It’s worth taking the time to investigate those settings and make sure you’re comfortable with them, just like it’s worth checking whether you latched the windows before you left the house.

When an application asks for “permission to send you push notifications and use your location data”, take a moment to reflect on whether that’s really what you want. Your camera and smartphone usually record the time and location in each photo you take, and when you share those photos, you may be publishing that data unless you specifically block it.


Find and use specific privacy-enhancing tools.

There are many privacy-enhancing tools out there, especially for browsers. You can use them not just to protect specific areas of your digital footprint, but also to maintain your awareness and understanding of what service providers are looking at.

The tools displayed here is just a starting point; there are many more tools available.

+ Abine ( Offers tools to add privacy to web browsing including DoNotTrackMe, DeleteMe and MaskMe.

+ TrackMeNot (

Is a browser extension to help protect web servers from surveillance and data profiling by untroducing noise and obfuscation.

+ Ghostery (

Informs web users about the tracking information in their browser and on web pages, and block some types of tracking.

With that four-layered approach in mind, here are some tips you can put into practice.


Step 01 – Manage Cookies

– Check what settings your browser(s) have for cookies;

– find your browser’s “cookie store” and spend some time looking through it.

– Reflect on how many of the cookies in there have been set by sites you weren’t even aware of visiting…

– Check whether your browser allows you to block third-party cookies.

– While some browser settings help with this, many users have installed additional plug-ins to help them control tracking cookies.


Step 02 – Check your privacy settings

– You must also take control of the information that you choose to share on any public service, especially explicitly open services such as

social networks, blogs, and photo sharing sites.

– Check what permissions apply to photos you upload,

– Consider expressing your preferences through mechanisms like Creative Commons licensing.


Step 03 – Understand the realities of data sharing

Once you’ve shared anything, in almost any context, you lose the ability to “unshare” it. And once you’ve visited a web site or created an account, you may lose the ability to erase your footprints.

Internet users also need to understand that a desire for privacy creates a conflict with many service providers, such as social networks.

The interlocking mesh of social networks, photo sharing sites, blogs and micro-blogs, URL shorteners, and republishing services creates a significant barrier, keeping you from controlling your own information.


Step 04 – Give yourself the tools and motivation to make better decisions.

By being mindful of the context for different Internet activities, such as “work,” “personal,” “social,” “family,” and so on, you can increase control by using different software tools and different real-world objects (such as different payment cards and different smartphones) to create boundaries and limit the information that can be linked.

While these techniques can be effective, they are also difficult to stick to. There’s no quick fix here… but thinking seriously about the realities is a good step towards adjusting the value you place on privacy. We are most successful when we are motivated to switch from no (or occasional) privacy-enhancing behaviour to privacy as something we do naturally and habitually; that means placing a value on privacy and personal data.

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