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Data Privacy

Snapchat Begins Transparency Trend with Personal Data Access for Users

DataGrail, July 20, 2018

Ever wonder where your personal information is being collected?

Thanks to the GDPR, you may be able to find out.

In the GDPR’s wake, Snapchat has released a new path for users to access their data. Since the law was announced in 2016, companies have been struggling to comply and provide users access to their personal data.

As of May 15th, Snapchat released a tool available for users to access some of their personal data. This data includes snap history, chat history, profile data, friends, ranking, location history, and more. Although this information may seem extensive, it’s only a small glimpse into the vast wealth of data companies have collected over the past decade — not to mention data stored in third-party systems.

The Snapchat app tracks a broad range of actions, including ad interactions, viewing habits, engagement, and interest categories. Moreover, most users are unaware that every action taken on Snapchat is written into a file and stored on Snapchat’s server.

According to Statista, in the first quarter of 2018, Snapchat drew in 191 million daily users.

These 191 million users are subject to location tracking, advertisement measurement as well as other metrics. With the release of the GDPR, users can now access the personal data that Snapchat has collected on them. And this is just one of many instances where the GDPR has greatly improved visibility for users and transparency for firms.

In Snapchat’s privacy policy, the company acknowledges that — with respect to customers data — they function as a controller. Snapchat claims four instances for using customer information including:

  • Consent
  • Legitimate Interest
  • Contract
  • Legal Obligation

Upon accepting terms of use, it’s likely that one of these cases apply to every customer — meaning Snapchat is processing all users’ data. Snapchat also includes a statement regarding data transfers to the U.S. and other countries of EU resident data but fails to include other companies or processors with whom the data is shared.

Although Snapchat provides access to user data, the app still lacks user-friendly storage features, as syncing contacts from the app and saving memories, media on Snapchat’s cloud storage feature, must still be done manually for each entity. Due to design changesad mishaps, and privacy concerns, many users have left Snapchat in the past months, including celebrities who drive traffic to the app.

Providing transparency, confidence in privacy, and responding to user feedback may be a key to succeeding in the future for any business that interacts with customers on a digital platform.

Snapchat’s new access tool serves as a step in the right direction in the Age of Privacy but leaves a lot to be desired for customers concerned about complete transparency. Lacking awareness of how data is processed or what third-party data is shared may push users away. Moving forward, more companies will be inclined to provide access to personal data — similar to Snapchat — and will likely expand to provide complete transparency in the processing of data.

For both legal and economic reasons, companies must move toward a more user-friendly database with limitations on the data collected. Due to recent data scandals, and regulations passing in data privacy, users are becoming increasingly aware of the data collected on them. As competitors provide access to personal data that’s collected, companies will be forced to investigate how to best provide privacy for their customers.

In 2018, users have more rights to their data than ever before, and these rights are rapidly expanding worldwide. Taking advantage of new privacy policies and data subject access requests is essential to protecting your personal data.

The state of California recently passed a sweeping bill — the CCPA — creating rights for residents like those of the GDPR. However, this bill is only the beginning of the Age of Privacy, and rights for data subjects are expected to grow internationally in coming years.

To view some of your personal data from Snapchat, simply proceed through Snapchat’s privacy center, and follow the directions here:

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