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Privacy, business and government

Mark Cornish of Adam Smith Blog has a post on privacy with very pertinent comments on consumer loyalty cards.

Rather than worrying about businesses using data in order to make their shopping experience more tailored to individual customers, we should be worrying about the number of civil servants allowed to snoop on their fellow citizens. According to the Foundation for Information Policy Research police and other officials are making around a million requests for access to data held by net and telephone companies each year. Customs and Excise have 200 staff authorised to use the snooping authority and had sought access 35000 times in the last year. The Inland Revenue accessing such data a further 11700 times in the last year. Do we allow too much snooping, or is it important for fighting crime?

I have not yet got around to everyday bashing of these everyday invasions of privacy. Some would say it is a trade-off – you get a discount and they get your data – but the balance of power is certainly not even. I especially detest the Nectar card that is a joint effort to collect customer data by Sainsbury’s, BP, Debenhams and Barclaycard, with Vodafone, Ford, Threshers, Victoria Wine, Wine Rack, Bottoms Up and Adams, Childrenswear, London Energy, Seeboard Energy, SWEB energy, All:sports joining gradually.

You can see why this line of apparel appeals to me…

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