Big data is huge business

19 Feb 2020

What role does data play in our lives? Could we become completely transparent just by doing our shopping: where companies know everything about us? And can we really trust the process?

The truth is, we are more at risk of personal data breeches and data crime than we have ever been. So, where does our data actually go? And more importantly… what are the big brand name providers doing with it once they have it? 

All new users are asked to sign a blanket agreement with each payment provider they sign up to. And as far as the user is concerned - the data goes to that company alone. The terms and conditions at one of the top payment providers for instance, has endless reams of information, making it almost impossible to find out where your data is going to be sent unless you want to spend three hours reading it from beginning to end. You just can’t help but get the impression that it was specifically designed that way. Even though this provider claims the data collected is used only for the purpose of the work that they do - That ‘purpose’ can be subject to interpretation and mean many things, according to privacy advocates and consumer protection groups. 

The moment you agree, the provider can use your personal data for other purposes. And make no mistake – it will be used. When you agree, you automatically allow your data to be used for advertising purposes as well. So, it does in fact get used for other purposes, not just for the service that you use. And because these leading providers want your data, they track their customers behavior very closely. Terms and conditions often include a 40-page list of third parties to whom personal data can be passed. Those third parties include the internet Titans such as, Google, Facebook and Oracle. And their goal? Personalised marketing. 

When was the last time you read all the terms and conditions when signing up to a new provider? If you did read it, the likelihood that you would find information in there that you wouldn’t agree to is high. Yet people click ‘I agree’ anyway. Why? 

Time! People won’t take the time anymore - We click a button and it’s done. 

If there was an option to say no to the terms and conditions and instead, paid a monthly fee for saying no - would that be preferable? A class of French economic students studying this very topic, agreed that it would be far better to have this option available. However, none of the same students believed it would ever happen because it’s a system that is already working. People will sign up and skim over the terms in the process because they want the service to be activated immediately. 

This makes a great case for personal due diligence, an even better case for the defense team the next time we protest about our privacy rights and what happens to the information we hand over, when, we do very little ourselves to protect against it.