The eazy way to protect your privacy

A new site called Priveazy aims to make protecting your data on Facebook and everywhere else as easy as pie. It might well succeed.

Managing your privacy online ain’t easy. Between Facebook, Google, the online tracking cartel and Big Brother, everyone wants a piece of your data. Figuring out who has which pieces of your personal info and what they’re doing with it is a challenge even for privacy geeks like me.

Most normal people just give up. That is, of course, exactly what they want you to do. (Who’s “they”? Fill in your favorite conspiracy theory here.) Now there’s a new tool that can help normal folks untangle the privacy knot. It’s called Priveazy, and it opened the doors on its public beta earlier this week.

Like the name implies, Priveazy is pretty darned simple. The site consists of three things: Lessons, quizzes, and tasks. Watch a video tutorial on how, say, Facebook collects your data, take a quiz to gauge how much you really know about its data collection practices, then follow a series of tasks to lock down the social network’s labyrinthine privacy settings.

(For the record: I got a 100 on the Facebook quiz. Not that you care, but I just had to tell somebody.)

priveazy facebook 101-600p.png

It’s not just Facebook. Priveazy also offers lessons on how to browse the Web safely, block Web trackers, make Windows more secure, and protect your email account. It offers step by step directions for tasks like upgrading your browser or turning off third-party cookies. Don’t want to do them now? You can set reminders and Priveazy will nag you later.

The site also sports a gloriously simple privacy policy, in part because the only bits of identifiable information Priveazy collects are your email address and your IP address, and the latter is discarded after 72 hours.

And the site is 100 percent free. So what’s the catch? At the moment, Priveazy is a labor of love for founder Jay Herbison and his small staff, but he has plans to turn it into a for-profit venture at some point.

“We have identified four or five ways we could make money, but advertising isn’t one of them,” he told me in a phone interview. “It’s simply not in our DNA. We will never share our users’ information with third parties or make money on the backs of people’s data. We just want get privacy awareness out there and empower people who are not IT pros about how to make the necessary changes to protect their privacy.”

As the site grows, Herbison plans to add lessons on how to lock down your Twitter and Linkedin accounts, protect your passwords, secure your home WiFi network, prevent identity theft, and keep data snoops from slurping up your location information.

Priveazy is in beta, so it’s still not entirely polished. It also relies heavily on video for tutorials, which as a Certified Old Fart ™ I find annoying. I’d rather read and skim.

If you’re a geek or you just eat and breathe Internet privacy issues, you might find Priveazy a bit too simplistic. On the other hand, if you’re tired of lecturing your mother/significant other/best friend from high school/random strangers about what they should and shouldn’t be doing with their personal information online, Priveazy is a good site to send them to. That's what I plan on doing.

Even if they don’t like it.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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