Over the last several years it has come to light that marketers have been collecting and selling consumer data to data brokers. It was even featured on CBS News & 60 Minutes in 2014 with a groundbreaking story called “The Data Brokers: Selling your personal information.” (CBSNews.com 2014).
For many years companies have been collecting information about consumers by tracking credit card purchases, asking for them to fill out questionnaires for discounts and catalog delivery and collecting their names, addresses and other personal information. Today we are giving up more and more private and personal information and most of us don’t even know that we are doing it. It is being sold to companies so that they can market to us on the web, at home and everywhere we go. It’s not just information about where we shop but also things such as our likes, dislikes, our friends, family and what we don on a daily basis (Facebook anyone?).
So is this all legal? Is it ethical?
According to the E-Commerce Times the data is being used to create psychographic profiles of people’s behavior and habits so that decisions can be made about them before anyone even speaks to them. “As with any powerful technology, the negative consequences of data mining are often the result of its unregulated, ineffective and misdirected use.”
The information gathered is legal but the practices of extracting it and its use are often unethical.
Our data is being collected by so many places it is a collection in motion that we fuel every day by using the internet.