Protect your privacy online

How Much Is Your Personal Data Worth?

If it seems like everyone is out for your data, that’s because they are.

Back in the era of hard copies — when hard copies were just known as, well, copies — collecting personal data was difficult and labour intensive.

In the digital era these barriers have largely been removed. The only thing really standing between your private data and hordes of data hungry agencies is you.

What kind of data are they after?

Everything really. The more personal, the better.

How private is your data?

Like all of the details of your health. As you’re likely aware, the government has kindly offered to store every medical concern — minor, major, or imagined — you’ve ever had in their My Health Record data base.

In fact, they’ve done more than offer. Unless you take the time to contact them and opt-out, they’ll assume you’re keen for them to do so. Don’t worry. They’ll keep it safe!

Then there’s the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Not only do they want to know the ins-and-outs of your finances, they’d like to know who you are by the sound of your voice.

It’s called voice authentication. And, ahem, it’s all intended to make your life simpler.

Here’s what the ATO says about this most helpful service on their website:

Voice authentication is a fast and easy way to confirm your identity when you call us or use our app. You just need to save your voiceprint with us.

The benefits they list include not needing to remember those pesky passwords or security questions when you call them.

Here’s what else the ATO reveals about this, erm, customer service technology:

Voice authentication accounts for a variety of factors, such as background noise and changes in a voice. When you contact us, the voice authentication system we use is able to verify you if you have a cold, or even if your voice has aged since your last contact. It also considers your emotional state.’

We’re not sure why the tax office should be aware of your emotional state…or whether you have a cold. But we’d suggest it’s none of their business.

Moving on from how you sound to how you look, your very face is no longer private. Facial recognition technology is popping up everywhere. Not only in airports. But Perth, for example, is rolling out the technology to identify problem drinkers…and keep them away from the booze.

Slippery slope? You bet.

Then there are your shopping and online browsing habits. Digital gold for the likes of Google and Amazon. Even if you pay cash, your purchasing data is tracked if you make use of a reward card.

Your financial data is the next target

The next domino to fall looks to be your financial data. Perhaps the most lucrative data of all.

First, there’s open banking.

As The Sydney Morning Herald notes, ‘by next July new laws will permit consumers to allow other financial companies and third parties access to their banking information’.

Why on Earth would you want to do that?

For the convenience, of course.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Kate Eriksson, digital and experience partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, says some of the benefits of open banking include:

  • aggregation of key accounts and services including status;
  • the ability to scan for matching a consumers specific trends and products e.g. savings, spending and mortgages, and recommend or port to new services;
  • the ability to bring a consumers financial data to wherever they are, such as into a messaging service, Alibaba or Amazon;
  • the pre-filling of forms and applications using actual data e.g. mortgage application or payment directly to a supplier or retailer.’

Have a close read of those benefits again.

Is there anything there that really makes it worth sharing your financial data with third parties?

Granted, filling out forms is no joy. But how often do you really have to do that? And are you willing to open your financial books to save a few minutes writing out your name and contact details.

Then there’s the bit on the messaging service. Do you really need your financial data delivered to your messaging service?

As The Australian Tribune reported on Wednesday, Facebook is sure hoping you do.

Yep. The same company that allowed Cambridge Analytica to improperly access the data of 87 million people wants the inside scoop on your financial data. Then you can link your financial accounts with Facebook’s Messenger and chat with a customer service representative.

From the RAW newswire:

‘The Wall Street Journal had reported that Facebook had asked banks to share detailed financial information about their customers, including card transactions and checking-account balances.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company could see some financial information from such users if they choose to opt-in…

“The idea is that messaging with a bank can be better than waiting on hold over the phone,” the company said.

There you have it. It’s all in the name of convenience.

Setting up a call back system — where the banks call you rather than you waiting on hold — is obviously too difficult.

Far easier, according to Facebook, to share all of your financial data so you can use Messenger to ‘chat with a customer service representative’.

Though it’s unclear why that customer service representative would be readily available to chat with you via Facebook if they’re making customers on the phone wait on hold.

PS:  If you’re  more than a few years away from retirement, your job could be at risk of being automated. This free report details the changes ahead. And some steps you could take to ensure you — and your children — are well placed in the age of automation.

Bernd Struben

Bernd Struben

Bernd Struben is the lead editor at The Australian Tribune. Bernd makes use of his extensive network to bring you the top stories you need to know about each day. Stories the mainstream may miss. Or bury somewhere you’re unlikely to ever read them. Bernd studied aerospace engineering and journalism at the University of Michigan, before graduating with a degree in economics. Over the past two decades he’s worked in media, management, and finance in the US, the Caribbean, Europe, and Australia. His other role, as the editor of the Port Phillip Insider, puts him in a unique position to read Australia’s most exclusive financial advice. Some of which he shares with readers of The Australian Tribune for free.
Comments: 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *