Your Data and The Wrong Stuff

You aren’t worried enough about your personal data.

I worry about my personal data online now more than ever. I wasn’t concerned at all a few years ago. That was before I realized how much of it was being collected by how many companies. No spoilers, but it’s a lot more than just Google and Facebook.

Having used Ghostery on my laptop for the last six months, my eyes are open to the sheer number of trackers online. The fact that I haven’t heard of most of them might mean that I don’t know much about the business. But it could also mean that at least one-or-two of them are wobbly startups, clinging to life, a botched round of funding away from going tits-up.

This is the way your data privacy is violated. Not with a bang, but with a whimpering Stanford grad.

What happens to your data when one of these places goes to the great tech-conference in the sky? The next time you see it might be on your credit report or in some kind of ransom note.

I’m sorry sir, but your credit report shows that you have an unhealthy obsession with fusion jazz, and we’ll be unable to extend this loan to you. And if you don’t give us a thousand dollars, we’ll tell your kids about your Warhammer 40k collection.

But that is nowhere nearly as fascinating as what’s being called LOVEINT. It’s a problem common enough that the intelligence community has a government-speak acronym for it. Imagine high-school jealousy, pettiness, and emotional instability powered by Big Data.

Revenge is a dish best served cold, and with rosemary, at least that’s what your data profile indicated.

Richard wrote about it over at Sanspoint:

But another aspect of all that data collection is whether we trust who has access to it. I’m not talking about malicious hackers getting access into the Facebook database and finding out everything it knows about everyone. I’m more concerned about the stereotypical jilted ex who uses their access to do a deep dive into what their company knows about their former partner. No matter how well you lock down what other people can see on Facebook, someone—likely multiple someones—at the company have access into the database.

Yes, the people who have access to this stuff are likely big shots who have been vetted somehow. But never forget the NASA Astronaut that drove from Houston to Orlando wearing a diaper.

Even people with The Right Stuff can misplace it and spend days sitting in The Wrong Stuff.