Take back your privacy – Get Some Gusto



“In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” Al Gore

I read an interesting article on research-live today about a YouGov study that indicates that over 30% of people in the UK have deleted apps on their phone due to worries that their information is being sold or over-used.

It makes me ask myself if Europe is ahead of the curve not only in individuals concerns over privacy but more importantly the movement to get consumers to take control of their data.  When researching online I find much more information coming from organisations like Mydex or Ctrl-Shift who are based in the UK; not to mention European data protection laws being the most stringent in the world.

I was at an entrepreneur event in North Carolina last week and was speaking to company who had developed a PIMS app (personal information management services).  This app acts like a broker for individuals who wish to sell their own personal information which is collected passively on their phone.  It also gives the individual the ability to decide what  information can and cannot be sold which would automatically adjust the overall value.  A very smart tool that gives the individual complete transparency, control and reward.  The problem is the chicken and the egg; do you build a crowd of people before you have clients to sell the data to, only to risk losing them because there is no one bidding for their data?  Or do you need the client investment first which is hard considering you don’t have anything to sell yet?

There needs to be more gusto from the consumer in order for this to be solved, and this requires education about our privacy and what is currently happening with our data.  With this knowledge will come the customer desire for change, as the customer changes so too does the industry.

This is where I see the UK, quite frankly, kicking some butt in terms of education and forward thinking.  If I am wrong and you are aware of more high profile agencies in the Americas I would love to hear about them.



5 reasons to care about your personal information – Thursday #4

884245-1684x947-[DesktopNexus_com]“I often worry that my idea of personhood is nostalgic, irrational, inaccurate” Zadie Smith



Personhood– do we lose a bit of dignity when our thoughts, words, actions, behaviours, mistakes and hopes can be accessed by unknown entities and used to communicate with us? Does it make us a product and not a person? Orwell’s 1984 used to give us the shivers but now we barely bat an eye at being monitored through CCTV, mobile and the Web.  And while we now have some respite from being monitored offline in our homes even that is becoming an opportunity for data collection. Recently it was announced that Dropcam had been purchased by Google’s Nest subsidiary, Dropcam sells in-home video monitoring with cameras having capabilities for night-vision, motion and sound sensing.  Nest has now revealed that they will begin sharing data with Google despite promises previously that it would protect personal data.  What would Orwell have made of this?

Managing my personal data makes me more comfortable with my feelings of personhood because I have some control – it just gives me that feeling of ‘win-win’ with organisations that I choose to share it with.



5 reasons to care about your personal information – Monday #1

photo So I was talking to my friend Sara about the sharing of our data and how social networks, browsers, websites collect and use it. She, like myself, is very open to sharing information because she sees the value in tailored advertising and deals. Another brilliant thing about this trade are the auto fill forms that make online shopping a lot easier. Let’s all be honest, we are too lazy to fill out these forms and with these auto fills spending our money is ‘oh’ so much easier.

Sara is a pragmatist, and is among over 50% of the UK population who are open to this arrangement in exchange for convenience and free social networking.   I find myself on the other side of the fence, and feel that I’m not really seeing the value for this exchange. I am bombarded by advertising and much of it has nothing to do with my current lifestyle and interests.

The big question that this conversation gave me was why should we care? People don’t seem to care and I think it’s because it happens in the background and we are barely aware of it which suits our busy lifestyles. To be proactive and manage your own data would take time and effort – I get it – that isn’t appealing. But let’s just pause and take a couple of minutes each day this week to think about why we should care. Here is Monday’s reason #1

I don’t read the Terms and Conditions, do you? Really, be honest with yourself. If you’re like me, your intentions may be in the right place, but you probably get fussed with the length, scroll down to the bottom and click “agree”. I tried reading through a few of them and like a long boring book with small font, thousands of un-inspired words, written in legalese, quite a turnoff really and frankly my time is too important to me. I read the Hewlett Packard privacy statement yesterday and it was 2390 words! If by chance you can be bothered to read through to the end of these terrible mini novels, you may come across this little doozy of a paragraph-

“Circumstances may arise where, whether for strategic or other business reasons, HP decides to sell, buy, merge or otherwise reorganize businesses in some countries. Such a transaction may involve the disclosure of personal information to prospective or actual purchasers, or the receipt of it from sellers”

This is typical, and I at least have some understanding of what happens to my data once it gets out into the ether. It’s sold, shared, aggregated and analyzed several times over. Who it is sold to, the relationship I have with the purchaser and the analysis that is done is completely out of my control.  And I do feel uncomfortable that my data could be tracked and used to encourage me into spending more – I have several weak spots when it comes to spending and I dare I say it I can be easily influenced.  I feel we as individuals ultimately should decide the level of intimacy with which we share our data!  I may want my husband to know my bra size for those special occasions, however, I wouldn’t be pleased if he turned around and shared that information with his mates down the pub.