Thursday, February 9, 2012

Are they watching us more than we're watching them?

              A few days ago, I read about the cyber attack on Zappos. The retailer said that millions of customer accounts were breeched, but c.e.o. Tony Hsieh said that credit card and payment data weren't touched.

            At the same time, Stylesight has reported that "shoppers are more willing to share private information". They were reporting on an IBM study of 28,000 people in 15 countries.

            According to IBM's global retail leader of  business services, Jill Puleri, people  "are willing to share more information if there is perceived benefit. It doesn't have to be monetary benefit".

            What's going on? Thefts of customer information at the same time people say they are willing to share?  Ms. Puleri thinks that "what it tells us is that they really want a personal experience. They don't want to find advertising in their mailbox or in their email about things they are never going to buy."

            I imagine that having your private information stolen results in a definite personal experience. Am I overly suspicious, or has social media got something to do with this? Are we getting used to sharing so much personal information ("Here's what I found out about Irma") with people we hardly know?

           Is what we used to call "private" now so public that nothing but the code on the back of our credit card is sacred?

           The major issues of privacy are now being debated in Congress and various bars across the country. My point is a slightly different one. Not about our right to privacy (unassailable), but about whether we still care.

           Obviously, online merchants will be thrilled if we don't object to being contacted by all kinds of people selling all kinds of things. And maybe you don't care who knows what or does what, if there's something in it for you. But you should care. Your individuality is at stake. Your freedom to do things nobody has a right to know anything about.

          Once your privacy is gone, there's no getting it back.


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