It’s your data!
Last week I went to a well known retail outlet to purchase a new television.
After working my way through a variety of displays and probably annoying the sales assistant with a variety of questions and making them turn several models around so I could see what sort of connections they had, I settled on a 40-inch flat screen.
After being told I would have to drive to the rear of the store to collect the item, I made my way to a PayPoint. The sales assistant started to tap away at the computer.
Once he had logged in, he asked for my name, address, postcode, phone number and email. “Why do you need those?” I enquired. “So we can process the sale,” he replied.
“Well I am paying by credit card, so there isn’t any need for those is there?”
At this point, they looked a little perplexed. “I can’t process the sale without those details,” they said.
I was a little confused at this point. If I was purchasing a smaller item like a kettle or toaster, I am sure the store wouldn’t have asked me for the same information.
“What are you going to do with all that information?” At this point, the sales assistant looked a bit like a rabbit caught in headlights. “Well, I can’t sell it to you without that information.”
“So let me get this right, you are going to refuse to sell me that television unless I give you all those details?” By now the sales assistant was looking very uncomfortable. “I’m not refusing to sell you the TV. It’s just I can’t sell it to you without the information because the computer won’t let me!”
Oh, I get it the computer is now dictating what a store can sell to people! “Ok, if I give you all those details, what do you do with them? How do you store them? Where do you store them? Who else gets to see that information?” Well, that set of questions just about pushed the poor sales assistant over the edge. “Errrrrrrrrrr” was the reply.
I asked to speak to the manager, and the sales assistant rushed off as quickly as his feet could carry him probably happy to be away from the awkward customer now firing multiple questions at him about his data and what he and the company were going to do with it.
A short time later, the sales assistant arrived back without the manager and explained that he had the override code, so I didn’t have to provide the details. After a couple of updates on the computer, I then used the Chip and Pin and paid for my new TV without supplying any personal information.
The whole encounter got me thinking. I know that we now live in a world of surveillance capitalism. My phone and apps are tracking my every movement. My search history is recorded. My requests to my smart speaker are stored and analysed. Even my credit card purchases are sold to other companies so they can then market other good and services to me, but this seems to have now started to impact outside of the digital world as well.
This isn’t the first shop that has asked me for my details, more and more shops want to send me my receipt by email, and I always say no. However, this was the first shop that had initially said that they couldn’t sell me a product without me handing over my data.
I wonder how many people out there would have challenged the shop the way I did and how many people hand over personal information without even thinking about what that company are going to do with it?
Remember it’s your personal information, your data, your private information and you have the right to know how others are going to use it.