Privacy? Your Life is Transparent!

by Jay Deragon on 08/03/2010

Almost everything we do has some form of data tied to it. Excuse me, I am wrong. Everything we do has data tied to it! This data rest in a variety of databases and a time is coming when all these databases will be connected together and transparent for the world to see. That day is closer than you think so before you become alarmed think more about the implication….then think again.

Data permeates from everything we do and the data streams are what defines the quality, or lack thereof, of our life. Stop and think about the data that surrounds you, comes from you and in essence defines your life. Do you think marketers want their hands on your data? For sure only to be used to target you with “stuff” they “think” you want.

Consider all the digital data about you:

  1. You are born and your records are stored digitally, everything about you.
  2. Your educational history is stored and available for anyone to see.
  3. Your medical history is stored and much is already available for the world to see.
  4. Your employment history is stored and available for the world to see.
  5. Your purchase history is stored and many, not all, can see it. Soon all.
  6. Your location, travel history in real-time and vehicle ID is stored digitally.
  7. Your legal history is stored and transparent for the world to see.
  8. Your conversations, both on-line and off, are transparent for the world to see.
  9. Your associations are with people and things are digitally stored for the world to see.
  10. Your death is stored digitally…..and everything from the beginning to the end.

Does This Alarm You?

I suggest you read the following:

  1. An article in CNET titled “Did we pronounce privacy dead this week?” by Caroline McCarthy
  2. An article by Doc Searls titled “The Data Bubble

Some snippets from both articles might reinforce why you should read them both.

Does privacy exist anymore? Do we even know what it is?A conversation between digital academics Jeff Jarvis and Danah Boyd

“We have no definition of privacy,” said Boyd,  “We don’t know what we’re talking about, the (members of the) press certainly don’t know what they’re talking about, (and) the spokespeople don’t know what they’re talking about.”

She said that she, like Jarvis, believes in the idea of transparency, the power of information-sharing, and is “a strong proponent of the public, and peoples’ right to access the public.” But what creates tension, she said, is the idea of privilege–something that readers of her research are well familiar with, considering her most heavily publicized theory has been about the “class divide” between the original user bases of MySpace and Facebook and how the rise of Facebook was a sort of “white flight.”

Consider it a sort of informational privilege: some suffer more of a risk from their information being made public on the Web, voluntarily or involuntarily, than others do, and are left more vulnerable to the kind of misinterpretation that Jarvis had mentioned before.

“The rhetorics of harm and damage of this…are very important and I don’t want to dismiss them,” Boyd said of the general connections between privacy and privilege. “What happens when these decisions continue to magnify inequality?”

Doc Searls said: Here’s what’s delusional about all this: There is no demand for tracking by individual customers. All the demand comes from advertisers — or from companies selling to advertisers.

For now.

Here is the difference between an advertiser and an ordinary company just trying to sell stuff to customers: nothing. If a better way to sell stuff comes along — especially if customers like it better than this crap the Journal is reporting on — advertising is in trouble.

We are entering an era where the terms and meaning of privacy are being redefined. The redefinition and terms are best determined by the individual who has now become the target of marketers. A better model would be that we are the ones who have rights to our data to target the markets.

{ 3 comments }

Rojarn (Mikael Röjnert) August 10, 2010 at 9:46 am

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Dusan Vrban August 3, 2010 at 11:13 am

Like your thoughts. Was considering things for a while. And ended up with “well why bother?”. The thing is I belive we can live open life if we really want to as a person and as society. If noone would be having bad intentions, why should I care.

Sure, too optimistic. :-)

On the other hand as well – if a company tries to offer me something based on my thoughts, feelings and wishes – than I hope they offer me that.

The biggest problem of this chain is that people don’t want to think any more. So they rather just offer me anything or 20 choices so I decide. All they ever wanted was my email. Now that’s bad!

Dan August 3, 2010 at 9:12 am

Great post Jay. The crazy thing is that we can be anonymous if we wanted. Humans store value otherwise nobody would want to mine it. Well, a dollar bill stores value to and it is completely anonymous. You have no idea if that dollar was used to buy cigarettes or girl scout cookies. It is anonymous.

There is no reason why anyone needs to know your personal information except at the point of consideration, transaction, and distribution time.

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