Selling your soul for a freebie

I keep bumping into the privacy topic and for a while I have thought that there is something materially different about the intersection of your location, your trail of personal breadcrumbs on the internet and what smart people could/might do with that info. Location is a subtle privacy setting that people will find even more difficult to set than the 150 options on Facebook.

At an event last year someone said words to the effect of

“privacy is so old hat, the cat’s out of the bag, get over it, when are we going to stop going over and over this?”

That’s not verbatim but you will get the drift. Well it looks as if the cat is out of the bag so to speak, people are starting to wake up to how much of their info is “out there” (and by the way this is not an internet thing, there has always been loads of personal info out there that the Experians etc have been gathering, mining and selling) and they don’t feel quite as relaxed about it as my share everything friend. The flurry of privacy conversation around Facebook and their attempts to back track indicates the potential fury over privacy.

The Observer had a very good comment piece on the subject last week which finished with

The fact that many people undervalue their personal data does not stop it being a precious commodity.

Nor does it diminish the responsibility of those with the power to collect data to seek permission. Consent must never be presumed. That principle must apply in the marketplace just as it does to the state.

So if our personal data is a precious commodity, how are we going to determine a fair basis to entrust this commodity or at least some form of access to it to the businesses who want to offer us free services in return for exploiting our personal data? The big challenge for social networks, search engines and yes even those LBS games that I was ranting about this morning is to engage in a transparent and understandable dialogue with people about a win/win transaction exchanging access to personal data for useful services.

Tony Fish has been talking about My Digital Footprint and makes some thoughtful comments.

To the people who told me “privacy – get over it” I think my response is “Privacy – wake up to it or go out of business, assuming you are in business”

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