Thursday, February 20, 2014

For a hamburger today

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported how federal government regulators and lawmakers are scrutinizing businesses who capture data profiles of troubled consumers from social media and other sources and then sell this information to other businesses.

One U.S. Senator recently sent letters to six companies asking for information on their sale of products that indentify consumers based on financial vulnerability or health status.  He’s apparently concerned that these data profile products are tailor-made for sale to other businesses seeking to take advantage of consumers.

He recently introduced legislation designed to “fix” this problem and protect us, or at least that’s what he’d like us to believe. 

The Wall Street Journal article noted how data brokers use profiling and predictive scores of data gathered from social media accounts and other cyberspace and public sources that provide leads about us and our hobbies, financial problems and even if we suffer from depression or athlete’s foot.

There’s one data broker business offering a list of African American pay day loan responders for sale to payday loan and sub-prime lender companies.

Personally, I don’t believe another federal law is how we go about protecting our data profiles from being exploited and sold to businesses, regardless if they have benign or predatory intentions. 

Real protection can’t be had from the government but rather must be cultivated from our own “be on guard practices” in how we go about our lives and the discretion we exercise when participating in dog and pony show and tell sessions in social media and other in-the-public environments. 

Our mythical friend Wimpy might like to be known to and contacted by a predatory lender for a quick and easy payday loan that he’ll gladly pay on Tuesday for a hamburger today.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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