It’s all data: the new necessary awareness required when living in the age of data collection and data brokers

If we have even a minimal perception of the impact our activity may have on the internet, from internet browsing tracked by advertisements to social habits monitored by platforms – even if perhaps we still ignore the extent of digital traces we constantly contribute to leaving – maybe instead we lack awareness of how our entire existence is under the spotlight.

Everything You Do On Your Phone Leaves A Data Trail

From the morning when I wake up and open the weather application (on the city where I am), to shopping with the loyalty card (which collects data on purchased products), the people I contact or even the traffic generated (websites, types of service, applications) on my home subscription: everything is data.

An important piece of data that has value on the market, as it allows service companies and platform managers, who benefit from these flows, to track a precise profile of our person.

In a world of continuous stimuli, where the rarest commodity is our attention, the search for tailored advertising is necessary, studied therefore according to the individual interests we have.

Your personal data is valuable and vulnerable and constitutes an undeniable source of profit for data brokers and companies that collect data and deal with their intermediation.

Your personal data constitutes an asset, which is bought and resold to the highest bidder. And the absurd thing is that data brokers act (almost always) in compliance with the law and do not require your consent.

A curious case is that of mylife.com, a controversial data brokerage website that collects and sells personal information without consent. Your data could literally be there, within everyone’s reach.

Data brokers are companies that collect, assemble, and resell your personal information to third parties interested in contacting you as a consumer, buyer, and sometimes even private citizen.

Aggregating and selling data are the main functions of data brokerage and the reason why data brokers exist.

But what is the difference between a data broker and an information broker?

Although the terms “data broker” and “information broker” may initially appear to be two distinct entities, their ultimate purpose remains unchanged. Therefore, we can assert that both engage in the sale of data to generate profit.

Fortunately, there are several companies that can easily help you ensure that your data is removed on your behalf, such as Incogni, which can handle and send a request for the deletion of your personal data on more than 180 brokers, including my life opt out.

What Do Data Brokers Know About Me?

Companies and services that engage in the collection and aggregation of personal data have access to potentially all kinds of personal information from a user’s name to his or her age, gender, email address, phone number, date of birth, place of residence, and even information about how users behave with respect to purchases.

Your public identity, acquired and resold by data brokers, ends up resembling a poorly written biography by someone who constantly keeps you under control.

Even though a part of the data brokerage process involves enriching, cleaning, and analyzing profiles before passing them on to other companies, what they know about you can be superficial, inaccurate, and entirely presumed.

Did you search for baby onesies for your pregnant sister-in-law? You might be classified as among pregnant women.

Did you subscribe to a loyalty card at the local pharmacy where you buy medicine for your diabetic grandmother? You might be classified as a high-risk patient.

The data selling market is based on a business model where the main focus is on creating target audiences.

It’s a billion-dollar market that encompasses an annual turnover ranging from 200 to 400 billion dollars. It is estimated that the market value for the data of an average user is around $290 per year, although the value varies depending on the individual but especially on their purchasing power.

For a company, your personal data can make a difference in the marketability level of a service or product introduced to the market.

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