Google is everywhere. It’s the world’s biggest search engine, the most popular phone operating system, the most popular web browser, an incredibly popular e-mail service, and a thousand other things. That means it knows a lot about you, especially if you you log in to a Google account and sync or unify your profile about services. Seeing exactly how much it is they know about you, and how it’s used… well, that’s been a little harder. Until now.
“Individuality” does not exactly spring to mind when you’re in the middle of the workday commuter crush, trawling the same roads at the same time as every other 9-5 worker who has to get to work and pick the kids up from school. And yet it turns out that you — yes, you — have a unique way of approaching that commute. So unique, in fact, that it only takes a few minutes of driving data for you to be completely identifiable.
Most smart TVs watch you back, to some extent. There’s money — a lot of money — to be had in user data, and advertising makes the world go ’round. Even accepting that, though, there are limits on what one generally should and should not have to expect when it comes to privacy-invading televisions, and new reports indicate that one manufacturer has gone well past that line.
It’s no secret that the internet, well, follows you around. Browse one product on Monday and you’re seeing ads for it everywhere all week long. Modern browsers have an option that lets users ask businesses nicely not to follow them. One consumer group tried to ask the FCC to make businesses listen but it appears that is not to be.
Apple products are popular, but they’re not cheap. There’s a certain cachet that goes with them, a projection of status and class. And Apple’s newest patent isn’t for another high-cost, high-popularity product… it’s for tech that will only advertise stuff to you that they think you can afford.
Study: Consumers Give Up Data In Exchange For Discounts Because They Figure It’s All Out There Anyway
You’re shopping at a store you’ve never been to before. They offer to sign you up for a loyalty card. You know it’s going to create endless postal and electronic spam for you if you accept, but they’ll give you 40% off of this order if you do. So you take the card. The store thinks they just bought your info with a discount. Are they right?
Verizon isn’t a cable company. Its FiOS product doesn’t spring from decades of guaranteed local monopolies, which means most FiOS customers can, if they get annoyed enough, jump ship to a competitor. But you leaving is bad news for Verizon. They want to keep their subscribers. And they have an enormous mountain of highly personalized data on hand to try to do it with.
By itself, your license plate doesn’t say much except in what state, month, and year you registered your car. But start tracking where and when that license plate goes, and you’ve suddenly got a whole huge pile of personal data about all the comings and goings in someone’s life. We’ve reported before that license plate scanning by public and private entities is both widespread and unregulated. Now, the ACLU is suing police in one state to get them to stop.
Do you know everywhere your car has been in the past week? Month? Year? You may or may not remember it all, but there’s a good chance that your license plate has had its photo snapped, and its location recorded, a whole bunch of times in that period. And anyone who can pony up the cash for a subscription to that database can tell exactly where you’ve been.
Savvy consumers all know that their lifetime debt history ends up in their credit score, and that lenders use that score to try to predict if someone is a good bet for a big loan like a mortgage. But even the most-connected consumer may not realize how many hundreds of other scores we all now trail in our wakes too, thanks to the advent of big data. Do you know, to the last decimal, how likely are you to buy jewelry? To sign up for cable? To have a kid in the next year? Someone, somewhere, is tallying all of that information about almost everyone. But good luck finding out what’s out there, who’s scoring it, and if your numbers are even actually about you at all.