The blog paidConent recently ran an interesting piece on the economics of preserving privacy in a world of Big Data. The reality is that information is gathered about individuals from a tremendous number of sources (credit card bills, online shopping sites, public records, etc.), much of which is bought and sold in volume for relatively tiny prices. Data aggregators can then take this information (along with records on millions of other individuals) and monetize this by selling access to it to any number of sources (from retailers, to debt collectors, an so forth).
Stopping this outbound flow of information, however, requires either considerable effort or considerable cost (or both). In the absence of meaningful legislation or industry policy on “do not collect” and/or “do not tract” the process of preserving privacy is increasingly difficult to achieve. The time has come to give greater attention to the implications of this ever eroding base of privacy and how, as a society, we want to deal with it. Legislation/regulation? Voluntary industry restraint? Surrender to the inevitability that there may/will be no privacy in the future? The best solution is far from obvious, but we are will overdue to begin the conversation in earnest.