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Ask us about AskUs Sam Grover
21 June 2017

Laptop spying

Just under a year ago, we launched AskUs, our interactive FAQ with answers to hundreds of privacy questions. In that time, AskUs has helped to answer more than 16,000 privacy questions. 

But while it’s been helping people learn about privacy, it’s also been helping us learn a thing or two about you. We can see what people have been searching for, as well as which questions are getting the most views.

This has been very useful for drafting new questions and answers, as well as giving us a voyeuristic look at what people are interested in.

So with a year down the track, what have we learned?

Lesson 1: You really like recording stuff

Wow – people are really keen to record one another. Around 400 people have read our top questions about installing and using CCTV.  

Of course, some people have a more specific purpose in mind for their new camera. Another 300 people are keen to get the details about filming over fences, or filming each others’ property in general.

So to put all your minds at rest, here’s an answer: unless you have  very good reason, you should probably taihoa on the camera. And just for the avoidance of doubt, “I want to keep an eye on my neighbour who I don’t like” is not an example of a good reason.  

Lesson 2: The top questions are timeless

While four of the top ten questions are clearly driven by technology, the other six are notable in how unrelated they are to technology.  It can be tempting to think of privacy as a technology issue. In reality, privacy is about personal  information in general – whether that’s in a hard drive, on a note card, or even in someone’s head.

 For example:

And the #1 question:

It’s also worth noting that two of these questions have to do with getting your own information from an agency. This makes sense; 60% of our complaints are from people trying to see their own information, so it follows that this particular issue would be highly represented in our AskUs questions.

Lesson 3: Not everyone knows how AskUs works

Some people confuse AskUs for a contact form, and type in long, specific queries, with a tenuous link to privacy!

One notable example was someone asking why a trotting club had not yet published the results of the weekend’s trials- it was Monday morning, and other clubs that raced on the weekend had already published their results.

There was, unfortunately, not much AskUs could do for this person. I hope he or she got a look at the results in a timely manner.

Lesson 4: There’s some deck-stacking going on out there

We’re very open about the fact that we see what people are asking, then use those answers to create new questions. Some people have taken that ethos to its extreme, and are asking the same question over and over again, presumably in an effort to get us to answer it. This is not a bad strategy, but some questions are far too specific to answer through AskUs.

So to the person who has asked “is it okay to transfer patient notes by mail or do we need to use courier post?” hundreds of times, rest assured that we have seen your question, and we are not going to write an AskUs answer for something so specific. Get in touch with our friendly enquiries staff and they’ll help you out.

Lesson 5: Someone is searching for various OPC staff members’ names

Please stop doing that. It’s kind of weird.

Image credit: EFF Graphics via Wikimedia Commons

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