Camouflage plays an important role in the animal kingdom. Just think of the plaice and its perfectly camouflaged skin that matches the seabed and hides it from predators. In the human world there are also predators and prey – but the focus is on the collection of personal information. The hunters have it easy because their victims fail to protect and hide their information adequately but instead make it freely available. The latest example: IBM wants to analyse the health information of Apple users.
Digital health information is a billion-dollar growth market – with everyone looking to grab their piece of the pie: The companies that trawl for and sell the information and the researchers, insurance companies and health insurance providers who want to analyse the data. With the iPhone or Apple watch, people are collecting the minutiae of their everyday lives and recording information that normally only a doctor would measure, such as heart rate or the results of stress tests on a stationary bike. This is just what businesses have been waiting for. In the case of IBM, this data will be transmitted to an online database via an IBM app.
No one likes to look a gift horse in the mouth. But the fool in this story is always the user, even leaving the privacy issues being raised by data protection experts to one side. What sounds even more absurd is that there are now companies trying to persuade users to sell their personal information directly to businesses. It’s called fair trade for personal information. Or better said naivety. Why should a company want to pay for information that is already freely available in the internet? And if they do pay, then the user is probably the last person to see any profit. Quite the opposite, they are the ones paying a high price for the generous sharing of their personal information.
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