Do you ever wonder why people in stores are asking for your phone number, address or other personal information when you are making a simple purchase? Do they have a “right” to that information? The answer is decidedly no, they have no right to it and we, all of us who have given it out, are being foolish to do so.
There are many companies now tracking personal habits. The Internet has opened Pandora’s box to tracking, specifically Facebook and Google, among many others. This information is valuable. A store clerk might say, “So we can serve you better”, but the purpose of collecting information is to compare it to other personal habits and find ways to market to you more directly, to make profits from you. The other main purpose is to sell that information to data banks. A small store might take in only a few thousand names a year, but a chain, like Radio Shack, will take in hundreds of thousands and any outlet that sells its data gets paid well when they decide to market it.
Here’s my new “policy”. Whenever any clerk asks me in the future, I will say this: “ Do you have a disclosure form on how you intend to use my personal information? Do you promise not to share it with anyone else?”
The first question is the most important. In fact, you can skip the second question, because the purpose of the first is to let the clerk know you aren’t going to share information. 99% of the time, you will be told there is no such disclosure form. Then you tell the clerk that you are unable to provide personal information. End of story.
If we allow anyone and everyone to penetrate our personal lives, to gather data and trade it back and forth, we will lose all aspects of privacy. In fact, some day a judge will probably rule that people have freely given away so much of their privacy that it really doesn’t exist any more, except in the bedroom. With the door closed. And the shades drawn.
Make your own choices, but, from now on, I am asking the store to tell me something about them before I give out any personal information. Why should they ask me for something for free that they intend either to sell or profit from themselves?
Doug Terry, 10.6.14 (go to The TerryReport home page here.)