Have you got a store card?

I don’t, never had. I remember the first cards coming out in the UK about 15 years ago, Sainsburys, Tescos. The buzz words were ‘data warehousing’. I didn’t want my buying habits stored in some database somewhere for someone to data-mine my life!

I am not completely honest in saying I’ve had no store cards, I have, well sort of. Every couple of years I have a moment of weakness…. would be so nice to be invited to the first day of sales in my favourite boutique. I filled an application out for a store card a couple of months ago, gave them my personal details, they sent me the card, and then -the moment of weakness passed- I did the same as what I’ve done every other time, cut it up and threw it in the bin.

Why do I do this? After all we have the Data Protection Act here in the EU. Our information is safe…… or at least that is what we think. I was so glad that I held my stance on the use of store cards when I listened to Meireille Hildebrandt -at LSE- earlier this week , a lawyer who has linked her expertise with a subject domain called ‘profiling’.

Profiling is ‘data-mining’ and finding pattern recognition. The challenge is -given the amount of information collected on each of us- is distinguishing the noise from the information. Profiling is an vast area and I will write something more about this when I get back from a week’s skiing in the North of Sweden. So watch this space……

On the cusp of a new surveillence age

So how is this?
We are living in a unique time today that will not last long, we are on the edge of a cusp for a new age of surveillance. So what do I mean by this? Bruce Schneier gave a compelling picture of the future -at LSE earlier this week- he started with today, one where we know that there are cameras everywhere and that we can see them, are aware of them! However…..

– In 5 years time they will be so small that they will still be everywhere but out of our sight.
– We will probably be unaware of ID checks being made on us.
– We will get location-specific advertising, e.g. walk past Starbucks and see a personalized advert.

What is more, we will start to accept this. Maybe even agree to keeping a ‘life recorder‘ in our lapel for a small reward at the beginning. It could be later that it becomes the norm, after all it provides us with an alibi if we happen to be implicated in a crime in some way. It could be that by not wearing a ‘life recorder‘ is an indication of our guilt because we ‘have something to hide‘!

For myself, and I expect anyone reading this would find this vision for the future somewhat disturbing, but unfortunately any research that I have done concerning consumer habits and acceptance for the sharing of personal information for some small reward -e.g. 5cents discount on a chocolate bar- it is not such science fiction given the advances in surveillance technology today and expectations for the future.

Fish for breakfast in Sweden and Fish cyphers

I was having an interesting discussion with Mark Curphey who mentioned that it was very strange that the Swedish eat fish for breakfast! I am British myself living in Sweden, and have actually become quite accustomed to seeing fish on the breakfast tables. Anyhow it got me thinking if there was any link I could find between fish, Sweden and cryptography so it was worth for some mention in my blog. And here it isFish cyphers“. It is quite likely that Arne ate fish for breakfast too!

Changing Generational Notions of Privacy

Take a look at this article and related discussions in Bruce’s blog. I wasn’t surprised by this. I see big money-making opportunities in the future for those businesses that ‘clean’ information residue (linked to identities) as some of the younger generation become adults and realise that recruitment agencies are ‘googling’ them before they are considered for the most sought after jobs.