Business has been collecting information about customers and potential customers for decades; if not a century or two. Yes, buying and selling customer information is nothing new. Where do you think catalog publishers got your name and address? They bought it. All the information you can think of about yourself– and much you cannot– is available to buy whether you like it or don’t.
Everything about you has a price tag. Kudos to Apple for keeping such information it gathers about customers mostly between the two of us. For example, when I’m logged in and shopping on the Apple Store, the company can tell me whether what I’m looking at is compatible– or not– with what I already own. That is a good use of personal information.
Charlie Sorrel explains how it works on the other side of Apple’s tracks, down the unpaved road, and into the less cultivated part of town.
Did you know that Home Depot shares your “name, address and transactional information … with third party companies”? Or that Marriott Hotels discloses “Personal Data and Other Data with select Strategic Business Partners”?
I can make that guess, but I’m certain that nobody at Home Depot or Marriott ever called me up to ask if it would be OK.
Again, move along; nothing new to see here. This is old bad news, right?
The bad news is, pretty much anytime you share your data with a U.S. company, it will sell that data to somebody else.
That much I know. What I do not know is how much data those companies have, how much they use, where they get it, and what it is.
Nobody tells me that. Except for Apple.
The good news is that you can opt out. And the even better news is that there’s one place to get all the information you need to do it.
I will believe that when I see it.
This kind of abuse isn’t exclusive to U.S. companies, of course, but the lack of any decent government regulation makes it easier to get away with than in other places.
Remember, we live in the good old U.S. of A. The land of the free, my ass.
The problem seems more complicated than a mere opt-out option because so much information has been collected for so many decades– accurate and up to date or otherwise– that it must be virtually impossible to track it all down and get it turned off.
What can we do?
There are two options. The best is never to use companies that sell your data. But if you decide on that path, then you may as well just unplug your internet right now.
Let’s not go with what’s behind door #2, Monte. But door #1 is closed permanently. The cat is out of the bag. The toothpaste is out of the tube.
Still, Sorrel, who may get paid by a combination of number of words and number of page views to each article, persists and introduced Simple Opt Out.
Prepare for a little nausea. Ongoing nausea. You know, like Hillary and Bill, or Barrack and Michelle on election night 2016.
What you’re going to see will surprise you; a long, long list of companies and their opt-out options. When they say it’s a jungle out there, they’re talking about data collections; data collected from you and sold by others to enrich their lives, not yours.
Thank you, Apple, for being an old fashioned company that just sells stuff. Besides personal information.