Ok black folks wake up! We live in an age of relentless information collection. Everything you do has been recorded and digitized somewhere by somebody. This information is collected for one simple reason; to know who you are, what you do, and whats happening in your life. Big data is in your business. Nothing is private anymore.
Let me give you an example; like most people, African-Americans are creatures of habit. We do the same thing, go to the same places day after day. So lets use your local pharmacy as an example. Everything you purchased at that pharmacy in the last 10 years has probably been recorded. I mean everything. What you purchased, what time you purchased it, who was on duty, what credit card you paid with. Did you use a coupon a store savings card? Did you need a prescription filled? Its all there. They probably had you on camera too.
So its all recorded. Now what does that mean? Well if you want to buy health insurance the insurance company will know if you are lying if you say you don’t smoke. They already know you do. They know where you bought your cigarettes and what brand you smoke. They know what prescription you had filled. They can check to see if you use any other over the counter remedies. They know a lot about you before they ask a single question.
Lets take it a step further; your credit or debit card or your store savings or loyalty card. How often do you use it ?A lot! So now the record tells all about what liquor you drink and how much. What beer or wine you like. What foods you eat and where you eat out. What gas you buy, where you get your car worked on and where you went and hotel you stayed in on your last vacation.
Let me get really intimate. Women, they know what feminine hygiene products you use and if you have difficult periods. They know if you’re on the pill. Men if you have a woman on the side the data will tell the story. Are you using Viagra? That’s out there too.
Black folks! Are you getting the picture?
All that information is accumulated and stored and sold back and forth between companies. It used to be that you had no way of knowing what they knew about you, how they got the information or even to see what it is. That just changed.
Acxiom, the largest of the data brokers, is allowing the general public to get a glimpse of the information they are collecting. The company announced last year that they launched a web portal to allow consumers to see what data they have collected on them.
African-American consumers can enroll at aboutthedata.com and check out broad categories of data that Acxiom has collected about them from both offline and online sources. This includes shopping habits and money spent, interests such as a music aficionado or amateur chef, your Internet connection, your education and political party affiliation and marital status. Consumers can make any changes they wish or just opt out completely.
Acxiom CEO Scott Howe said in a statement; “After 40 plus years of advocating for the responsible use of consumer data, we’re now taking our first step in establishing a direct relationship with consumers and plan to grow the site and its capabilities over time.”
Rachel Thomas, VP of Government Affairs for the Direct Marketing Association also spoke about the new portal; “Acxiom’s consumer portal will help consumers understand and demystify what data brokers are all about.” The Direct Marketing Association lobbyists have worked to educate lawmakers and take the mystery out of the data industry.
Acxiom and the DMA understand that the collection of information, consumer privacy, has become a serious and growing issue. Congress has begun to investigate the industry and may feel compelled to act by introducing legislation to control the information industry. This new portal is designed to keep new regulation at bay.
Breaking It Down
Black people are running around with those store savings cards and loyalty cards getting nice discounts on their purchases. What you’re really doing is selling information to data collectors. You sold them your grocery list for 10% off the price of the groceries. You sell them the right to get a look at what you bought any time you use that store card or your credit card.
Data collectors use numerous ways to get information about you. The watch your Facebook, page for example. What black people need to understand is that there is no privacy so you need to limit what you share. Check out the aboutthedata.com website and see what they know. I’d advise you opt out. Just to annoy them. And because it really is no use. You may be able to opt out of Acxiom’s data. But there is a lot more information and a lot more companies that are not telling you anything about what they know about you.
Now you know.