Big Data. Big Brother. Big Deal?
Large volumes of personal information is being gathered by private companies. Some of them like Google, Facebook, Yahoo and AOL use them in support of their ad revenue. But the information that is collected is also sold to database marketers, who in turn sell this information to other corporations.
When analyzed correctly, your information can track your everyday habits, profile your likes and dislikes, uncover upcoming events, and find ways to successfully reach you.
It turns out that you give this information to private companies voluntarily, or at least with your complacency. For example, in exchange for discounts though loyalty programs, we also provide details records of our purchases, the times we frequent stores, how much we spend and the types of products we like. From this information, a private company can make some sophisticated assessments of the type of person you are. In addition, there is a large amount of information available through public records. These can be assembled by matching names or other unique information (eg, street address or phone number). In other cases, you pony up your information in exchange for free use of email, social media and storage services. Many times we simply ignore simple steps that we can do to protect this information from prying eyes.
Big data is big business. Market research firm IDC predicts that these services will reach almost $24 billion by 2016. The vast amounts of information will reach 7.9 zettabytes worldwide.
How concerned should we be about this gathering of information? If we get better ads or it helps us make buying decisions, should we really be that concerned? Before you say yea or nay, take a look at just what information can be gleaned from your mobile devices while you use them, and how it is gathered.
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