First, I’d like to thank all those places that I trusted with my information for outsourcing it to a single provider. Nothing like putting your eggs in one basket, really.
Second, because privacy, outsourcing, identity, and brute force attacks go together like peanut butter and jelly, I wanted to think a little about what we’re gaining by worrying about who has our email addresses and shopping habits, our data footprints and hat sizes. Because all we are doing is worrying about it. It’s already all the way out there for all values of horse and barn that equal long gone.
But the grouping of all our information in smaller and smaller baskets (yes Facebook, I am looking at you), in the name of efficiency makes sense not only for the businesses that want to do it, but also folks that want to access the information on you that those businesses have, without your knowledge or approval, for various unhappy reasons. We should be worrying about who has the right to decide what happens to our information once it’s out there.
Do I want my data to be misused or tweaked to misrepresent me? I do not.
Do I want to be judged on the basis of a database impression of who I am? Newp. (yeah, yeah, horse/barn.)
Do I want to be able to access my online me without having to resort to a retina scan every time? I do.
So where’s the happy medium? We need to find it. Because, eventually, if you are dialed up to a retina-scan level of security, and the company that’s been o-so-accurately scanning resumes for keywords is now offering identity profiling for all sorts of things (credit checks, travel, schools) there’s every chance that the market for faked identities and faked eyeballs will force you to build a higher wall. (To all those vendors asking me for my credit card “security” numbers, sorry you’ve already heard this rant.)
My data is out there, in the hands of folks who are focussed on the bottom line. They’ve been passing my online me around in very profitable units for a while now. If soon a company comes along to help me manage and de-frag all the potential damage that these data policies have had on my data, as well as to help me vacuum all the spam out of my inboxes, I won’t be that shocked. It’s already happening for those folks who are helpfully posting photos of you that you didn’t know you didn’t want posted.
What I really want is a way that I can manage my own data, seamlessly. With some sense that the folks who provide this service are operating in my best interests. I want a way to be able to say ‘well, no, that’s not me. This is me.’ And, yes, I’d like to be able to manage that. I don’t go out into the world with bed head (not intentionally). I don’t want my identity to either.
What I think we’re looking at, instead, is a market that demands higher and higher assurances that we are who we say we are, in order to have the pleasure of getting them to accept our data so that we can be ranked according to how pretty that data is when it wakes up in the morning.