Personal Data: Exposing your data

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It seems like every day there is a new data breach. Large trusted companies become compromised and lose millions of people’s personal data in one fell swoop. But how much data do we give away freely?

JP Morgan are the latest in a long line of large companies to suffer at the hands of hackers. A reported 76 million private and seven million business customers had their names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses compromised this week.

It goes without saying that this is terrible. Not only is it a huge number of people but the breach also occurred in a bank. If any company is going to be completely water-tight then you’d hope it would be a bank.

Just giving it away!

Also in the news this week: the good folks of New York are willing to give away personal data for cookies and Londoners use free Wi-Fi in exchange for their first child.

380 New Yorkers handed over precious pieces of private data, such as phone and driver’s licence numbers, in exchange for delicious cookies. The organisers, fully aware of the cookie pun, operated on a point system: handing over more significant personal data could net you more points to spend on cookies.

In London people signing up to a Free Wi-Fi service, simply called Free Wi-Fi, unwittingly accepted a “Herod clause” in the Term's and Condition's. Six people ended up signing up for the service and giving away their eldest child in the process. Later the T's and C's were removed, but the organisers continued to run the service and were able to poach passwords and other data from users. This was obviously just an experiment; you can’t actually force children into slavery using small print.

On demand

It’s interesting that when a large company loses a lot of data everyone goes nuts, understandably so. Why then are people willing to give away their precious information for sweet treats and Free Wi-Fi?

I believe that part of the problem is that folks don’t understand the value of their information in a digital landscape. Also people are getting used to an “on demand” culture, whilst at the same time forgetting who holds their data. Oh here’s my address, now give me a cookie. Sure you can have my name, email address and 10% of my income, can I have my movies now?

Folks get angry about the way Facebook uses their data, but barely anyone is willing to inconvenience themselves by taking a stand. And whilst millions of users go about use Facebook and other services as normal, they aren’t going to change.