Terms and Conditions

5 reasons to care about your personal information – Friday #5

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Trust – Ultimately it comes down to trust.  How do we trust these organisations when we don’t read the terms and conditions, don’t have the education to make good decisions or receive true value from the sharing of our data?

Then there is the black market for personal information. AT&T have just confirmed a data breach of its mobile phone users (the guilty parties being employees) and earlier this year eBay saw a data breach effecting 100 million customers.  Almost every day there are examples that are news worthy and demonstrate the lack of security.  There are also mistakes or negligence, a woman in Florida found out that her lawyers had tossed her files into a dumpster, un-shredded.  These files included medical notes, bank accounts and pay stubs.

I am a pragmatist and accept sharing some of my information in exchange for convenient shopping online, using social networks etc . But I also own my data and feel the equilibrium is restored if I work with an agency who can help me manage it.  To quote someone who commented on this blog I want to be ‘passive interested’ not ‘passive stupid

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.