I am young enough/old enough to remember reading George Orwell’s 1984. The idea of thought police around the corner ensuring that you maintain order in your daily routine. The idea of such oversight was the extreme example of invasion of privacy (albeit in a sci-fi context).
Fast forward a few decades and the PC which was once a cornerstone of many households, evolved to include an electronic gamebox, then to a networked home, and finally full connection to the internet. Where once we may have prodded in the internet-lite worlds of Compuserve, and AOL universes, our modern day, fiber-optic connection, zero-lag video streaming has brought ‘big brother’ to our door.
Gone are the days of worrying about the digital cookies left behind by websites. All major browsers have learned to identify you as you step across the internet. Now, what we say out loud, what we watch on our smart televisions, is being cataloged and sold as any other commodity. With the advent of the smart speaker (e.g. Alexa, Google Home, etc.) you now have an active two way radio that not only is listening to you, but recording and cataloging your family.
Just for fun, ask Alexa who the NSA is. Then ask her if she shares data with the NSA. I did this, and the silence was shocking.
This past week, I saw the advertisement for an Alexa module for your vehicle. It’s my prediction that the battle for your driving data is well underway with Amazon gobbling up every chunk available if possible.
I was made aware two weeks ago of a nifty app for an insurance company named Root. Their claim to fame is that they can offer auto insurance to you cheaper because they only accept “good” drivers. With that in mind, I downloaded the app, and as instructed, began driving. After about 10 days, it had a driving history that it claimed it could price a quote for me based off of. Here is one big unknown for the company…it can’t tell when I am driving or when I am the passenger with a person, with a lead foot!
So until they can close that data gap, company’s like Root, Alexa, Tesla, will work to gather the data points that make up who we are in a digital world, and find a way to sell it back to us or to the companies we want to shop with.