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Theo walks into his favourite store. He looks at a pair of shoes that he has wanted for a while and finally has enough saved to buy them. He tries the shoes on, finds the best fit, walks up to the cashier and pays cash for the shoes. The cashier gives him a receipt so he has some sort of proof that he bought it.

Seems normal right? How about we replay that transaction in the online world.

Theo tries to walk into a store, except he is not allowed in until he tells the security guard his name, date of birth, address and agrees to a secret hand shake. The guard also tells him that he now owns this information and might sell it to others that want it. Theo understandably says no thanks and leaves. He goes to another store that lets him look and try on the shoes without security bothering him. When he walks up to pay however, the cashier asks similar personal questions to the guard at the previous store. He can’t buy the shoes if he doesn’t answer the questions, but at least this store doesn’t sell his personal information. He looks at the other people in the line, sees that they are all doing it, shrugs his shoulders and reluctantly agrees. …


Luke Hargreaves

Historian and Architect. These articles represent my own view points and not those of my employer, Amazon Web Services.

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