There’s been numerous media report recently questioning how private our personal data is. In the US there’s be a furore of articles published about the NSA collecting and storing “call data records” from telecoms companies. Data such as phone numbers individuals have been calling and how long calls have been going on for. There’s been a number of articles calling into questions the PRISM Scheme in the US, which claims to have collected and stored information from such sites as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Skype, Microsoft and Apple. Then we have articles in Europe claiming the UK authorities have access to the PRISM data the US and other national authorities have been collecting. The question is what is being done with this data. The party line is it’s for ecological research……
It begs the question, in a digital age, how much privacy are you willing to give up?
There are sectors of the business world and general community that believe that consumers and employees should have no expectation of privacy, because the “benefits” that can be extracted from the extensive analytic exploitation of personal data far outweigh the potential risks of the loss of privacy. Is there that elusive information needle of gold in amongst the haystack of data?
On the other hand, there are those who believe that modern society has reached a privacy “tipping point,” and that only intervention by regulators and privacy advocates can prevent catastrophic damage resulting from the incremental loss of privacy over time, or that ethical guidelines need to be drawn up to protect the illegal use of what is deemed to be private data.
The ethical debate on how we use publically available data is still playing out in the community as a whole. The well publicized story of how a large retailer exposed a Teen’s girl pregnancy, all based on her buying patterns is well documented and when I recently asked a packed room full of attendee’s at a recent BI and Information Management conference whether they thought it was ethical – it was evenly divided – 50/50.
Whichever side you’re on – it’s a slippery slope and likely the big winners will be the law firms as these thing play out in courts around the world….
As to my personal opinion on Telco’s handing over my “call data records”, I don’t know about you, but the only thing this would tell someone is that I never seem to be off a teleconference service, I should ring my mother more regularly and I order pizza every Friday night around 6:30!