Take a look at our lives as we move further into an online world, where the majority of us have internet access, own a computer, tablet and/or games console and have a mobile phone. We also have sky or cable television, bank, credit and saving accounts and more of us can drive. Further to this we have accounts with Facebook, Twitter, iTunes and Spotify to name a few. What do all these have in common? Well to have these we must hand over a lot of personal information, we provide our names, addresses, dates of births and even bank account details. But this is all kept safe, secure and private right? Have you read the majority of the Terms & Conditions out there? More often than not, they allow the company to either use your data internally for management information purposes or to provide you with other products they have that you may need or like.
Then there is the clause that allows them to sell this information to selected third party companies. Selected third party companies? What is a selected third party company? Generally it is a company who will pay them money to use your information for marketing purposes. That’s right, the company you trust sells your information to make profit, oh the shock, the horror. This has been going on for years and the truth is, we accept it as the services that they provide we either need or want.
Let us take the big bad Facebook and that mean Mr Zukerberg. Do you notice that down the right hand side is a number of adverts, guess what? A company pays Facebook to put them there and every time you click on one the company has to pay. How do these adverts appear? Well when you create your account, you enter your age, sex, location and other information like the movies, music, book etc. that you like. All this information is used to help companies advertise to you, a company can ask Facebook to place their ads on every page that meets their criteria, such as female, between 23-32, married, likes Bob Marley, Vin Diesel and LOLCats. Facebook then use your information they have stored to match up the advert and in theory, the target audience should be interested and click on it.
Okay, I know, I know, yes Facebook have not given out your information to that third party company; however, have you actually ever read the terms? They gather information from every computer or mobile device that you access Facebook from, they collect GPS location data to know where you are or where you have been. They too share data from third party companies you use and that’s not all, they even take information about you that they can gather from your friends. With all this information they can give it to any affiliate, partner, third party company etc.
‘But they don’t hand out your personal details like your name.’ I hear you cry. Hmm you are correct to a degree, they don’t without your permission, and we won’t give them our permission right? Wrong, you remember that game app you tried from a friend? They may have asked for your permission to access your personal data and you just clicked allow so you can feed that farm dog. Now you’re in trouble, as Facebook has no control what and how these third parties use your data. They could simply publish what they want, how they want and there is nothing you can do as you clicked allow without considering the third parties terms & conditions, you thought they are covered by Facebook’s? I have news for you, they aren’t.
Moving on, let’s look at iTunes. You have an iPod? iPad? iPhone? So I guess you’re using iTunes. The majority of you will be using it to simply play and catalogue your music, it is one of the most downloaded music libraries and players out there. Creating an Apple account you enter not only your personal details but also your debit/credit card details which allows you to purchase music, films, book and apps. All this is stored in the iCloud along with all your photos and contacts so you can access it anywhere and any time, subject to having a signal for more than 30 seconds. That’s a lot of information to be stored in one place that can be accessed anywhere. Take a look at the Sony PlayStation fiasco when their servers were hacked and credit card details were stolen. That was done without even having access to your PlayStation, everyday people lose or have their iPods or phones stolen, allowing easier access to your personal information.
So that’s your personal information and it’s now travelling round the world bouncing of numerous servers under the promise that the companies will not hand them out unless you give permission or they change their terms & conditions, and lets be honest, how many of us read the quarterly change to the iTunes T&C’s, or do you just click yes? If you were so concerned about civil rights and privacy would you honestly had over your details, over and over again?