It’s one of those days…you find yourself ready to cross that busy street and whoops – you suddenly look up only to see something familiar…”You” it’s your profile in full view for all to see….instantly you feel violated. Maybe this may be a far-fetched scenario, but as you’ll read on it’s not so far from being a reality but certainly a trend in gathering your information available to billions.
When most think of digital identity most think of the basic vitals; your age, nationality, perhaps residency etc. Most people take for granted what they blog, their interaction with social networks, simple train journeys and biometric information collected by their passport could possibly be integrated and shared due to the buyouts and collaboration of information shared with both private and public sectors.
Only a few weeks ago Facebook bought Instagram who in March 2012 alone had over 27 Million users! That’s a lot of data. It’s just a close estimate that Facebook has a generous 845 million users but these aren’t users who just signed up with Facebook.com as general users but in fact those who visit other sites integrated with Facebook. I thought not to just pick on Facebook, after all it’s an Internet staple these days for many but to focus on the bigger picture your digital identity overall:
Back in the day not so far back and still in use, direct marketing was the key player in finding out about our customers with bulk of the analysis relying upon the check boxes returned for well anticipated consensus. When the digital buzz rang back in the late 90’s we saw many companies either go bankrupt and to clear all their debts by selling their data to the highest bid to any willing buyer. Soon after, digital companies such as Mylife.com, Wink.com,peoplecheck.co.uk, integrascan.com,123people.co.uk for example have populated voluntary information (remember that permission box you check?) for all to view such as your exact addresses over the past decade, who you’ve lived with to family members related to you and photos you may be seen in, not to mention that real age that you seem to never change every year – available to all at a small price that any ‘Joe Schmoe’ can purchase to learn a little more about what you consider private.
Today companies are investing more and more into CRM one must then remember that we “all” are customers at some point or another, therefore we all are subject to exploitation. Adobe’s acquisition of Ominiture in 2009 for instance was valued at $1.8 Billion which many would say back in 2009 that perhaps that was a bit pricey but when you look at the overall picture Ominiture held data or customer insight from over 75 countries. It’s only a matter of time that history will repeat itself. So if we are all subject to have our data put on the market due to a potential buyout how do protect our identities from being traded? Better yet, how do we control what information is public and correct for that matter?
- Conduct a search on yourself on all search engines and to see if your identity is in conflict to what you want the public to see and know. If not true, challenge it, if private then delete it. This includes making sure you check under the images tab. In the end your profile becomes your BRAND and either an asset to how people view you or demise to what people feel your character may be.
- Register to get Google Alerts to get a daily check of when your name is searched
- Keep up to date with your credit history; many have been amazed to see some companies snooping for information registered within their credit reports. Companies such as Equifax, TransUnion and Experian hold valuable information that can be used to profile you so it’s very important to not only know how your credit rates but what other companies may have a view of.
- When working with any company that handles your information make sure you take the time to read their Privacy ethos. Most companies will let you know when they have changed the copy or terms within their promise to you. This allows you the time to either delete or change your information stored in their database.
- If for instance you are required to have a social media image for business networking separate your business profile from your private one with family and friends but do keep to the rule that if it’s on the internet it can potentially go public
With Cloud technology increasing, and GPS tracking and companies such as Foursquare you can only imagine if the word digital privacy will be a thing of the past. Mark my word!