yesterday I found something weird, something frightening in my mail. First it looked like one of this random invites to an upcoming family day at a local home center, or telling you’ve won some draw. What caught my attention, it wasn’t adressed to me correctly, but to an acronym of my name I usually fill in registration forms when I act online. But this very letter was from my insurance, offering a guy with nearly my name a product tailored for my financial situation.
Cross referencing, data mining and a pretty reckless attitude towards data privacy – in my morning post. Not disguised in any way but furnished with a friendly cover letter saying my ‘personal relations manager has found out…’.
I remember the public debate about the last big census in Germany 1987.
It was considered a scandalous breach in the individuals privacy being asked to tick your religion or age on a form that didn’t even mention your name as it is common for census data to be processed in a way so as to obscure individual information. But anyway, back then even such vague questions on your person and beliefs were highly inapposite, indiscreet. People were aware such information invites to abuses, political or otherwise.
If you register for any social media and fill in the basic profile data, this provides much more detailed info about your person than any census does. A profile is containing everything from sexual preferences to income range, to biometric data in form of actual fotos, ready to cross reference with consumption patterns at amazon. soon you in person will be tagged accordingly and via augmented reality such data will be readable everywhere you go via your GPS mobile.
One of the big online retailers does not deliver white goods, tv sets or alike to some neighborhoods in my hometown any more, as these are considered poor, not creditworthy. I don’t talk about slums or favelas, but a street a good friend lives in. She’s sen. art director at a well recommended agency. But she had trouble buying online ever since she moved there…
and yes – I’m not paranoid and on facebook and linkedin and obviously an open book to read – at least for my insurance.
your sincerely Mr. Loggs Fog