Is Big Brother Watching Too Closely?

iStock_000013702258XSmallI am a marketer and therefore I crave data. Information, well analyzed, is power to a marketer. For every company I work with, consumer or b-to-b, I want to know demographics and buying patterns of their prospective customers. I want to know the “full tilt”– who, what, where, when, and how. Truth of the matter we live in a world of data explosion, a marketer’s dream, but alas there’s so much information in our digital world that there is growing concern over one’s privacy. I understand this too.

Today, more than ever, Big Brother knows how, when and where we spend our money, what emails we open and when we do so, and even where we are at any given moment.

I love watching Law & Order episodes, old and new, where a mobile phone call, emails and GPS info help find the criminals.  But then I stop and think every time I drive through a toll booth with my EZ Pass. Why are so many people lining up to pay a toll and not flying through the EZ Pass line. Don’t they have credit cards? (90% do). Are they just too lazy to get an EZ Pass (some are)? Or do they want to avoid having a record of their vehicle driving a particular road or bridge at a specific time—information that would tell others they weren’t where they were supposed to have been. Aha!

Today where virtually every adult carries a cell phone, that handy device also tells people not only where they made the call from but also specifically where you are at any moment. And for those who carry Android and iPhones, isn’t it interesting that the ads you see directly relate to where you are? And since the majority of cell phones today are smart phones those handy devices with their cool apps are telling ad networks where you are in any given moment. Hmmmm…

As a marketer, and even as a consumer, I am OK with that. I have nothing I seek to hide or not expose to others. But it even makes me stop & think about the power of information. Is the “prime-crime unit” in Minority Report around the corner? (Brilliant movie whose content seems relevant every day)

I’m not sure I have the solution to the issue. We live in a digitized GPS-enabled world where security is often breached. But the price we pay for our GPS devices in our cars, to tell us where to drive, and smartphones with cool apps which entertain us and help us with our lives, is a loss of privacy. As with drugs, advanced technology has a “side effect”—one which we need to all understand.

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