I’m a 1980’s child and clearly remember the days were you arranged times and meeting places to meet friends rather than “Where are you” text messages and when the family went to large shopping centres / attractions my father would say “If anyone gets lost we’ll meet at x” rather than relying on mobiles. Sometimes just driving to the supermarket alone forgetting my mobile phone incites a sense of “Living on the Edge”, what if I break down? What if someone needs to contact me urgently? How can I do quick web searched while shopping?

To What End?

Once again we seem to be going into a new age of technology; a whole new era of data collection and trust with companies providing us services and devices. Microsoft and Apple are perfect examples. Cortana and Siri send our voice data back to the company servers to be processed and turned into commands which the device understands. Hidden in the Terms and Conditions the companies ask if they can use this data to improve user experience. I ask myself to what end and what safe guards are in place to prevent abuse of the data (employee or third party)? Are the big companies crossing a line into their customer’s lives?

Is this acceptable?

I don’t use voice recognition mainly because I really don’t have the need and people in public would probably think I was talking to myself! But I do use other services such as Google, Amazon and EBay. These companies also collect data and sometimes I feel violated: I may be shopping for a computer hard drive using the mentioned websites then for days or even weeks after I’ll be on unrelated websites and advertisers start suggesting hard drive sales (the model I was looking at), EBay starts suggesting hard drive auctions, likewise Amazon will also start advertising the said product on their home page. I ask you is this really to improve user experience? Is this acceptable or is it a blatant invasion of privacy? Does it make it ok that Google sometimes pops up with updated privacy terms that the user clicks okay just to get to the search page?

I do feel consumers in general are becoming more aware of privacy because we are now seeing web browsers such as Opera release versions emphasising more on privacy and ad blocking, however this may just turn out to be a damp squib.