Collecting, Mining & Valuing Your Personal Data is Just part of the Information Age!

Last week, the media went crazy reporting on the NSA’s collection of phone data on individuals calling foreign countries.  But, to me, that’s not so bad, because whether you’re aware of it or not, most of the companies you do business with every day are collecting lots of data about you, including:

How many children you have
Your Job Title
How much yogurt you buy every week
Whether you have health insurance
What music you like
Your age
Whether you have a dog or cat

For example, every time you go to the grocery store, you pull out your frequent buyer card
and hand it over to the Casher.  Did you know that by using that card, you allow the grocery store to gather all your personal information about what kind of food you like, whether you use coupons, how much milk you drink every week?  And then they look at that data, analyze it, and use it to send you new offers, or even to customize your cash register receipt?

That’s why I don’t use a grocery card!

If you ever buy anything online, those companies also gather and use all your information.
They put data together and decide whether they should make more size 12 or size 14 dresses for every county and state in the USA.   They even set their prices partially based on what you were willing to pay last month.

Same for the airlines companies, rental car, and hotel companies.  Last February, I traveled a lot and stayed in hotels about 15 days over a 5 week period.  So now I am still
getting dozens of online offers for hotel rooms.

I’m not saying this is bad, or that it’s good.  It doesn’t bother me, as long as I keep the number of promotional emails at a manageable level, but it is just a little taste of what the future holds, as we will be tracking, matched, aggregating and defined by the data that’s collected on everyone in the future.

Let’s not get so tough on NSA, unless you’re also willing to go after WalMart, Giant Foods, Publix, Safeway, Albertson’s, Amazon, Priceline, Macy’s, Barnes and Noble, and hundreds more!


This entry was posted in accountability, Controls & Safeguards, Data-Driven Security, NSA, Privacy, Risk Assumptions, and tagged , , , , , by Caroline Ramsey-Hamilton. Bookmark the permalink.

About Caroline Ramsey-Hamilton

Caroline Ramsey-Hamilton is a leading expert in assessing security risk in both information security and facilities security including security risk assessments, active shooter and security risk assessments for hospitals and healthcare organizations, cybersecurity, nuclear security, and also auditing, analyzing and measuring compliance with all major security standards, like DHS, FEMA 426-428, The Joint Commission, HIPAA Security & Privacy Rules, the HIPAA Omnibus Rule, and OSHA 3148 for Preventing Workplace Violence. And including both C-TPAT and CFATS. She is currently working on a universal set of easy security tools that will make it easy to assess risk in a variety of companies, agencies and business. Her company, Risk & Security LLC, works with more than 500 clients around the world using a program that standardizes site surveys and assessments and makes it easier to compare facilities and measure their level of security. She posts breaking security & risk alerts at She's also an animal lover and tree hugger, and musician who loves dogs, horses, kitties, house rabbits, parrots, and especially beagles! I support and other animal rescue organizations and work toward a more peaceful and green world.

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