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Australian Government - Office of the Australian Information Commissioner - Home

Data Privacy Day: how is your personal information being used?

Every day we share hundreds of small details about ourselves online, whether it is our phone number, a status update on social media, credit card details to buy online, a trail of cookie crumbs to use our favourite forum, or our name, date of birth, address and email address to access online services or apps.

Although these details may seem insignificant on their own, together they create your online identity — a profile and picture of who you are, what you do and how you behave.

This online identity is used by businesses to verify who you are and allows you to access their services, like your online banking. Businesses may also use different parts of your online identity to:

  • personalise your online experience
  • improve the products or services that you receive
  • share and sell on to third party organisations.

But it’s also important to be mindful of what information businesses are collecting about you and how they are using it — from how your personal information is stored to who it can be shared with.

This Data Privacy Day, we encourage you to take a moment to review your privacy settings in the apps and websites that you regularly use. Take the time to see what information your favourite websites retain about you, how and what they use it for, whether they share or sell it to anyone else, and what you can do if you want to change how they handle your personal information.

Remember, while businesses can use your personal information for different purposes, it remains your personal information.

You have a right to:

  • ask to see what personal information businesses are keeping about you
  • complain to the OAIC if a business mishandles your personal information

For more tips on protecting and controlling your personal information, please look at Privacy fact sheet 8: Ten tips to protect your privacy. And if you have any further questions you can always contact us for advice.