Data and Privacy: Who Owns “You?”
January 18, 2011 at 7:18 pm Mary Ludloff
Part 1 in an ongoing series on data privacy.
By Mary Ludloff
There’s a great report on the power and possibilities of Big Data that was just released by NESTA, the National Endowment for Science, Technology, and the Arts in the U.K. I could give you a long and involved explanation of how this all came to be, but David Rowan from Wired.co.uk does a much better job synthesizing the event itself and the report results so read his article instead!
Now, if you’re interested in Big Data, this is a must read. And even if you’re not, you really should at least read the section on our electronic soul because it is all about data privacy and they tell it much better than I ever could.
Think about it. Every day, with our various personal devices, we leave trail crumbs of data across the Internet. That data is used for a myriad of purposes and I could go into a long, detailed discussion about what it is used for, but in its simplest form it’s really used by people like me (yes, marketers) to figure out how to influence you to buy a product or a service. Some might say that this is too simplistic a view, but I will get into the “for the greater good” discussion in another post.
So I ask you: who owns the digital you?
All those sites that you joined, buy or sell things on, or use to “connect with,” might say that in return for the services or products they provide, they own the data that you leave (those trail crumbs) on their site. And they have a point.
Huh? Yes, companies do have privacy policies (and you should read them if you’re a member of the site, or registering for something, or buying something, etc.) but you need to decide upfront what you’re willing to share and what you’re not. For example, in my last post I talked about Facebook users sharing their school affiliations or pet names. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, as long as you never use that information for your password hints or worse, your password.
- Determined whether I was okay with their opt-in and opt-out policies and if not, changed them or ended my relationship with the site.
- For every “new” website relationship I was about to enter into, I did the same.
Once the grunt work is done, you can then go into monitoring mode. This is what I do every couple of weeks:
- Google and Bing myself to see what information is out there about me and whether it has changed.
- Visit sites like My ID Score and Spokeo (see my previous post) to ensure that the data I want private remains private.
Sounds like a bit of work? Well, it is and it isn’t. After all, this is your electronic soul that we’re talking about. Who better to determine how it’s used and for what purpose, than yourself!
Entry filed under: Data. Tags: big data, data privacy, LinkedIn, NESTA.