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Revealed: The data your favourite companies collect about you online

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With cookie consent banners and GDPR acceptance popups disturbing our visits on almost every website we visit, we are all too aware that companies collect, process and store our personal data.  But what data do the major brands know about you?  What is this personal data that online companies collect and store?  If you’ve ever wondered what data your favourite brands know about you then data access company Rightly's recent ‘Your Data Uncovered’ campaign reveals all.

Your Data Uncovered: Which brands know the most about you?

As mentioned above we are now bombarded with consent forms every time we visit a new website.  I like to call it the junk mail of the internet. It can be quite infuriating when you are simply trying to quickly find out some information online, or read a great blog post, and you have to accept cookies, accept GDPR, accept the websites terms and conditions, close an advert so you can view the content, have a mailing list popup asking you to subscribe… oh and a browser notification request asking you to allow the website to send new articles and updates to your browser!  Phew! 

It can be really off-putting when visiting a website to have so many forms, popups and consents to check, close and either agree or disagree with.  And, if you’re anything like me then you will simply click accept on the cookies and GDPR to simply get on with browsing the website!  Let’s be honest, none of us click through to read exactly what information any website will be collecting and storing about us. We are busy.  We have more important things to do.  We just want to do whatever it is we want to do on the website and get on with our lives!

Many of us do seem to be worried about what information companies know about us, but we simply let them have it anyway!

But if you’ve ever been curious about what information they actually know that could be really personal to you then read on.

How companies use your data

The more personal information you might not know companies store about you!

It may come as no surprise that many companies store your name, email, gender and perhaps your age, but it may be more surprising to know some companies might store your sexual orientation, salary weight and criminal record.  Many sites store information about your social media friends, hobbies and interests.

What do they do with all this information?  For the most part it’s so they can send targeted advertisements your way so you see ads on websites that are related to you and your lifestyle.  The more likely you are to click on an ad and make a purchase, the more money these giant companies can make whether that’s an ad for their own service or a third party ad.

You probably already notice ads about places you are visiting, things you have searched for online and other things you already like.  This is because many sites track what you’re doing online and in essence they build up a profile of you and your likes so they can target you with relevant advertisements at the right times.

For other sites it’s so they can actually provide their service to you.  For example, you would expect to give a lot of personal information such as your sexual orientation to a dating site so they can match you with the right people.

On other sites the reason isn’t so obvious. For example, on some adult video sites they store your religious beliefs.  Why they need to know this is beyond me.

You may think your data is safe on health apps, but many popular health apps might store and sell your data.  As Rightly reveal in their article: “when using healthcare sites and apps such as Strava, Flow Health, Calm and Headspace, you must be aware that personal and sometimes very sensitive or intimate data, such as information relating to mental health backgrounds, fertility and pregnancy plans, and even private sexual activity data, can all be collected, stored and sold.”

Is it time for a data detox?

So what can you do if you are not happy about the personal data large companies are storing about you?  One way to tackle this is through a ‘data detox’.

You can use a free online service like Rightly to discover who has access to your personal data and what they are doing with it.  They can communicate with over 10,000 companies on your behalf, for free, to find this information out.  Then, once you have all the information you need, you can request Rightly ask the companies to update or delete your information.

Discover more information in the Rightly campaign about how you can start a data detox. 


Let’s start a conversation about data!  Share your thoughts on data protection law in the UK, your data experiences or data detox considerations on social media using #MappingMyData