What is data? It seems obvious, but the true nature of any thing is in the eye of the beholder. To you, data is something that exists on paper and in computer hard drives, held for convenience and to protect your interests, should anyone ever need it or should you ever need to prove something. But what do other people think of when they think of YOUR data?
That is a question for this era, I think. We have to ask; what is so great about data, and what is so great about MY data. Surely there is nothing as worthless nowadays as “Name, Address and Telephone number” but what about birthdate and family members? Indeed all of this information seems fairly innocuous until you actually think about what it all means.
Imagine a company that wants to know what you can afford. How on earth could they accomplish it? Easy! All they have to do is look at your address. Credit card companies have been doing it for as long as they have operated. Your address is as good as a sworn affidavit of income as far as retail companies are concerned. Armed with that information, they are free to market what they deem to be in your price range. And they don’t even have to wait until you get into the store. They send it straight to you using that email address you handed over. And in the era of mobile internet, they can market to you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, while at work, at home eating dinner and even while you’re on the toilet.
We’ve often heard of the phrase, “knowledge is power”. Well it has never been truer. The like of Facebook and other marketing… I mean; “social” networking sites have aggregated vast swathes of data on thousands of millions of people and if you think that they are just going to sit on that data then you are, quite frankly, deluded. The truth is, and they admit it in their own invasion…. Excuse me, “privacy” policy, is; they use that data to target advertising at you. That is if they are not selling it outright to their so-called partners. Remember when you first put your email on Facebook, and all of a sudden you started receiving junk mail trying to sell you Viagra. Well, that wasn’t a coincidence.
What will they do next? Data to them is as good if not better than solid gold. We already know they are selling data for billions. I mean who wouldn’t in fairness. You might be thinking, “Sure what harm?” Only time will tell. In the meantime, we should all be more careful about what we “choose” to share on the internet. The internet has become an important part of our civilisation. Let’s keep it civilised