What IS Your Privacy Worth? And Who Is Big Brother?

When I was a child…or should I say…back in the day (or is that totally passe’ now the boomers use it too?)…Big Brother was a gray cloud on the horizon and understood to be a warning about future government intrusion.

But that day is here NOW and boy were we naive. Big Brother is Amazon and Google and Apple and Facebook and retailers…and although government has plenty of data on us…its information systems can barely get out of their own way compared to the private sector.

So what is your privacy worth to you? An extra 10% discount? Five fewer minutes in the store? Another $1.50 off your purchase? Is that worth having this new 21st Century version of Big Brother know who you are, know where you are and know what you are doing 24×7? Alexa, what should I think? (and I am not even talking about the spies we are bringing into our homes)

Two items today!

The first is the ‘new convenience’ that technology is bringing to shopping. Amazon already has stores where there are no check out lanes…not even the DIY versions currently growing in big box stores. No, you simply enter the store, select your items, and leave. They will bill your charge accounts.

But now it is even more identifying than that:

If they work, cashier-less stores will not only save time but maybe money too. From cameras and sensors, the stores will know when shoppers pick up a product and put it down, and can send them a discount to tempt them to buy it. Merchants will receive more insights into how people shop. They can create more space for merchandise, better track when shelves need replenishing and draw more business from the hordes of customers who detest long lines.

But the monitoring system underlying cashier-less technology is bound to raise new privacy issues and worries about customer data falling into the wrong hands, especially if stores deploy facial recognition software in the omnipresent cameras watching shoppers.

“It could be scary, and it could be creepy,” says Peter Trepp, CEO of FaceFirst, a Los Angeles company that so far has only sold its facial recognition tools to retailers trying to identify shoplifters and other criminals. “But if it’s used to give people a 30 percent coupon on something they want that is going to be a nice benefit. That kind of experience will help people embrace the technology.”

emphasis mine: you believe that?

The Second: and it isn’t just Amazon…Target got caught playing pricing games with their app recently and had to make some changes.

Target has modified its smartphone app after a Minneapolis TV station reported that prices displayed on the app changed whenever users approached the retailer’s stores, sometimes rising by hundreds of dollars.
KARE-TV reports the Minneapolis-based retailer recently released an updated version of its app that labels whether the price next to a product is “online” or “in-store.”

The app’s location-tracking function lets users find nearby stores or where specific items are located. But it also appeared to trigger price changes as users entered Target parking lots.

Now isn’t that special?

So technology is already so pervasive that ‘they’ know where we go and what we do. And there are the anecdotes about going somewhere and getting ads for that location. Or getting ads for things we’ve googled on our other social media accounts.

But what is the breaking point for you? Europe has implemented some privacy laws that business finds restrictive and that they are lobbying against in Washington. But how much is it worth to you to give up your ‘freedom’? The president touted the freedoms we have and swore that we would never give them up! So why isn’t there conversation in Washington about constant tracking and privacy violations and intrusive surveillance? Right now I am feeling that my cell phone and Apple and Amazon and Google are far more dangerous to my ability to maintain my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness than the Patriot Act is. Sigh!

And I almost forgot ~ one of the articles mentioned information falling into the wrong hands. Doesn’t mention whose hands…but given the repetitive reports on store databases or systems being hacked…it is inevitable that this data being collected will end of somewhere else and used for something other than its intended usage.

And just to bring this up again: But where is the data that Cambridge Analytica collected?


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