Data is mine but we as consumers undermined it first!

There is a great article in Time Magazine which talks about "How companies know everything about you?".

There are many relevant points that are being made there but I really don't concur with all the blame &  privacy issues that are being made in the article. I agree with the need for privacy of my data and of course, am against littering of my personal information. But, before we jump of the hook and start  blaming the internet, industry leaders like google, facebook, twitter &  other data marketing companies, we as consumers need to think about the following points:

  1. Free email : There is nothing called a free lunch right? When you have a free email id which you have  opted to take and use extensively, the companies need to find a business model to make money. Hence, they decided to build a business model around targeted advertising using the content and information that you access. The money they earn is being used to store our email data, provide uninterrupted access to your email, maintain the infrastructure etc. So, are we as consumers ready to pay for such services and also therefore define or give information access, rights to these companies on our terms? 
  2. Customer aggregation platforms have done it for decades, so what's the stress?:  Television, radio station, newspapers did it for decades. The content that consumers watched on TV was subsidized by advertisers, broadcasters & electronic appliance companies to name a few – They paid to reach consumers and group of consumers like you. Every interruption of ' your valuable time' when you watch your favourite movies and soap operas is 'invasion of our privacy'. We chose to live with it, till new digital media like internet, mobile came-in. There were no laws to stop this invasion of privacy. The new media companies have now found a new method to hawk this information. Are we as consumers ready to pay subscription charges for such content and define access rights for this information on our terms?
  3. Intermediation leads to social litter, disintermediation protects it: Any intermediator, we know, controls the information, prices and margins. This has happened time and again to us as consumers. The farmer faced this many decades ago as he could not get the right prices for his produce as the intermediators held them to ransom till disintermediators intervened and build an efficient supply chain. The banks are the age-old intermediators who have made pots of profits( and they make it still) by making money on our money!  I see many social media platforms as intermediators – I never was able to connect with my friends who I had lost for ever till they came-in and made it easy. I see it as a huge a benefit. But, the information they hold is a goldmine and they have to find ways to monetize it to remain in business. Are we as consumers willing to pay for being members of these social platforms – even a couple of cents, if we really find them valuable and beneficial? Therefore, we can define access rights to these platforms on our information on our terms? 

To conclude, what I see around me emerging is businesses like information vaults, personal information utlities (PIUs) firms like allow, Personal which talk the right language of consumer control but as a consumer I would like to know what are their terms of agreement with my preferred platforms – social media, TV, email service provider, communities on the Net am a member of, financial services provider, govt.( they trade social security nos. for a price too!) etc.. There needs to be terms of transparency, terms of portability, terms of usage, terms of enagement   etc. before we as consumers jump-in and start embracing these platforms.

Else, this will be a case of one more of the many fads that  we will fall into and we will undermine our data once again!

 

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