Personal data have the price of gold in todayʻs world. And they can be collected by anyone who can access them. These are social media operators, web browsers, mobile phone companies, financial institutions, governments or businesses offering goods or services. But not just them. Third parties buy the data from them — for example advertising, research or data agencies.
The main reason why everyone wants our personal data is that they can be perfectly sold nowadays. The value of these data consists for instance in the information regarding what you look for on the internet, what you are interested in. It means anything that can be offered and sold.
Anyone who needs to know the utmost about us, is interested in our personal data. These entities want to sell us something or get some information that can help them to make concrete decisions. For example a restaurant chain wants to obtain information that will reveal how many people appear in the locality where the chain wants to open its new branch. The mobile operators data disclose the number of people who come to this area every day and payment cards data reveal what is the financial standing of the people who pay in local shops by cards. Do you think itʻs far-fetched?
No at all. Have you noticed for instance that when you lastly searched for information about summer holidays, you were receiving holiday trips offers until the autumn? That is no coincidence. This a typical business with your data which were used by your web browser for targeting the advertising that had been paid by travel agencies.
Data on sale
Letʻs repeat it: anyone who needs to know the utmost about us, wants to
obtain our personal data. They want to sell us something or get the information that can help them to make decisions. Whether they want to place a new product on the market or find out if it makes sense to add new buses to the line connecting a suburbian town with city center.
It is highly delusive to think that our data are a closely guarded secret. Many
services are not for free thanks to the praiseworthy interests of their providers
but due to the fact that by means of these services they find out anything
about us they need. Even modern technologies must be paid, so they work on
the basis of selling or exchanging the information about users.
A negative example can be the British company Cambridge Analytica which
collects and analyzes our personal data that were used for supporting the
election campaign of the U.S. president Donald Trump. This was happening not only in the United States but also in Great Britain or in the Czech Republic. So far it has been found out that this company has bought personal data from Facebook related to at least 50 million users.
We are not talking by far not about the cases when someone uses our data
unethically. Much more frequent are those cases when companies and
organizations want to get our data just because they want to know what and
how they can offer us.
Tescoʻs customer cards
It can be illustrated by a grocery chain whose discount card you use, much like hundreds of thousands of other people. The chain collects data about your purchases each time you use such a card. It knows what, when, where and for how much you have bought. And as it observes these data in the long term, it can compare and evaluate them. Multiply your data by hundreds of thousands of other people and you will have a fair summary of consumer information from all country regions.
The chain can use your data for its purposes but it can easily provide them to
third parties. It can be either for money or for free in terms of some
cooperation, for example with suppliers. If you doubt about it letʻs recall the
recent scandal of the British chain Tesco which sold data about consumer
behaviour of 16 million customers who were using Tescoʻs customer cards. The data were sold by means of Tescoʻs data company Dunnhumby with a fantastic profit of more than CZK 1.5 billion. According to unofficial reports Tesco clients data were targeted for example by Unilever, Nestle and Heinz.
The good news is…
Having said that it is clear that personal data are the main key for success in
many areas. The good news is that thanks to the new European legislative,
known as GDPR each EU citizen has the right to access any kind of his or her
personal information. These can be either the data citizens provide themselves or the information that is collected by social media operators, web browsers, companies and lots of other subjects. People can use their data as they want. They can save them, examine them or provide them to other parties. Either for money or for free.
Data systems collect all data provided by us. Examine and evaluate them. The personal data advisor Datari and its web/mobile application helps to make personal data retrieval and understanding easier for people. There is no reason why only big companies should profit from our data.