Once you’ve talked about the birds and the bees, talk data privacy.


Judging from the ruffled feathers of people reading my list of “73 pieces of data about you” the topic needs a bit more coverage.  Over the past 12 months I’ve done a lot of teaching, a lot of talking and a lot of writing. I’m seeing a divide of attitudes, so much so I could split some rooms down the middle of who is willing to share their “personal” data and those who aren’t.

The baby boomers tend not to share information, well nothing that they think is relevant to their core privacy. The majority I’ve spoken too, unless working in some form of tech field, don’t really see the fuss of sharing anything and everything about themselves or their first/second degree connections.

Generation X (early 60’s to 80’s) are happy to give certain aspects of information out but certainly not everything. Only in the last four years with decent mobile connectivity there has been an influx of GenX postings and sharing.

GenY and GenZ/I on the other hand are comfortable in sharing pretty much anything, Facebook being the primary tool of announcement. And it seems that most things are game for coverage, not going to list them I’ll leave that to your own imagination.

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There once was a time when if you gave information you got something in return. Basic customer loyalty in action. “For my name and address I give you permission to send me mailings with information of your products.” It was hardly rocket science by any stretch of the imagination.

The dawn of the world wide web and people started having email addresses. Mailing lists became easy to join with no real thought of what would possibly happen to this single piece of identification afterwards.  

Now it’s a free for all. And Facebook is not the sole reason that data privacy has gone to the dogs, oh no. We’ve been slack for quite a long time. It’s just now that the time for something to hit a server and be redistributed in less than a second, on the record forever, never to be deleted.  

So occasionally you’ll get the nonsense about employers wanting to go through your profile, well those headlines come and go regularly. In order to use a service for free then there’s a data trade off. Want offers, then there’s a data trade off.  Status updates are a trade off, location check ins are a trade off, Clubcard points are a trade off. The data holds value to the one who’s collecting it. On receipt then expect reward in some form, no matter how small. 

We give data away like we’re passing out cups of water.  Now for someone in the information industry you’d think I’d be encouraging everyone to give data away so the BigData marketers can sweep in and start “predicting” stuff. 

Don’t think this is just in the late teens. Think Moshi Monsters, Club Penguin, Bin Weevils and countless other children’s online games. I’m certainly not against them but even at that level it’s about data, connection to the brand and what can be sold the parent in return. 

So, perhaps after the birds and the bees talk it may be a good idea to have a frank discussion about putting stuff up on the internet. Once it’s there, well it’s there. There for the searching, there for the sharing and there for the mining. 

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