Nowhere To Hide

Your life so far has been a big data trail for someone else to mine.

Trail

Image by Xpectro via Flickr

Google took what was essentially crumbs of data left by millions (billions?) of people as they navigated around the internet, compiled and analyzed it into an index of how relevant and popular any place is that you want to visit.  As they compile more bits of information about you and your social circles and browsing history (and recommendations and…), your lifetime becomes laid bare to their ultimately commercial interest.

Privacy is being hotly debated in some circles but most are not even aware of what is at stake. For some the world has evolved and we can no longer apply past expectations of privacy to constructs and capabilities emerging today – the new world is a shared one. For others, any data associated with their personal identification is off-limits.

There is a new huge privacy conflict dead ahead.

As people living a life, we leave a “left-behind” history of data crumbs scattered through twists and turns, good and bad decisions, personal and professional growth, evolving interests and relationships. We might assume that “time heals all wounds”, and the “past is past” and some of it best forgotten. We might assume that we have a right of “forgetting” much of this past history, and of preventing others from perpetuating our “old selves” as we struggle to re-invent ourselves daily.

But what if we weren’t and still aren’t really conscious of all the myriad ways our data history is being tracked, assimilated, compiled, and used against us? Can we even fathom what’s lurking in the Big Data of the world about us?  It’s so damn big…

Can you opt out when you can’t really opt in? If you are online, reading this blog, you are in! Does anybody and everybody have the right to mine your big data trail just because it exists?

(p.s. While we are feeling a bit paranoid – Do you think you should control who can see and use your genetic code (much less the copyright)? How about your complete lifetime compiled credit and spending history? Who will have full access to your complete lifetime twitter stream? And be able to compare it to all your friends, and people like you…)

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