Your being watched right now, no, don’t look around, you won’t be able to see who’s watching you.
In the 21st century, the age of technology, we are all under surveillance. Surveillance here is defined as the monitoring of the behaviour, activities, or other changing information, usually for the purpose of influencing, managing, directing or protecting them. Sounds very similar to marketing. Thinking of all those oddly specific pop up adds in your Facebook feed right now?
Often we are unwittingly opting in to this surveillance, downloading free apps on your phone, allowing them access to your data your GPS location, all installed on your phone, means they are effectively surveilling you. Using gmail or Facebook, we are handing our personal information to companies. Using rewards cards at popular stores, allows companies to mine your data, to build a picture of who you are. And they know a LOT more about you than you might think. A particularly famous case involved a teenage girl in Minnesota and her local target, who after analysing her buying habits, started sending her advertising for baby gear, much to the surprise of her father, who made a complaint to the store, only to be told by his daughter that she was, indeed, pregnant.
However it gets worse. We are willingly becoming a product sold to marketers and advertisers. Wearable technology, marketed at monitoring our health, think the rise of the fitbit and smart watches, is passing on our personal data. It is tracking our every move. We are happily handing over our privacy, our information, for the perceived benefit of health or self surveillance, the idea that whatever app it is that we are using is of more benefit then our privacy is definitely in vogue. the Fitbit for example is monitoring when you eat, sleep, exercise and even have sex, and there is no way of knowing that the information recorded is secure.
The repercussions for our disregard for privacy could be great, any drunken photo a friend tagged you in on Facebook years ago, any regrettable tweet you made, that may never go away. Your data trail is here to stay and the consequences of that could be far reaching in the future. Employers are now routinely checking social media before hiring and firing. Any future litigations, could be decided on what you post today.
“It’s so cheap to store all data. It’s cheaper to keep it than to delete it. And that means people will change their behavior because they know anything they say online can be used against them in the future.” – Mikko Hypponen
And now I will leave you with this catchy ad for fitbit, seems somehow creepier now doesn’t it?