I read a great Editor’s note in CIO Insight this month on the effective end of privacy as corporations build massive customer databases in an attempt to better understand how, who, when and what to sell to people. In federation terms, I call this ‘attribute-hording’, the concept that companies aggregate our attributes and then leverage the aggregation of these attributes to build ever more complex algorithms for predicting our behavior. While I’m generally OK with trading privacy for convenience on a per company basis, I’m less enthused about allowing that implied privacy relationship to be federated without my knowledge — but that’s another topic.
I wanted to hone in a particular line of business which specializes in aggregating our personal attributes for the purpose of resell. I think these companies are particularly dangerous, as they become concentrators of data which could be used in a variety of unpredictable ways, most of which not necessarily beneficial to the attribute owner him/herself. Unfortunately, they already exist in many forms, and it’s already big business in a variety of markets, so I doubt there is little we can do to stop the ones that seek to aggregate attributes that we consider to be private.