The digital age has created countless opportunities for businesses and numerous risks for consumers. Smartphones have caused companies to access information that users would never share face-to-face. A raging public debate on the extent to which consumers can sacrifice their privacy for government surveillance is ongoing. However, this discussion can also be extended to businesses that use consumer data without consent.
Tracking companies are now able to connect and observe behavior using the websites a person visits (Firner et. al., 2013). They then create consumer profiles and deliver that information to interested organizations for targeted advertising. Typical tracking firms include Flurry and Drawbridge, while advertisers that buy that information include Ford Motor, Fidelity, and American Express. Mobile phones have made it easy to monitor consumer behavior because of applications; these do not allow blockage of cookies (Miller & Sengupta, 2013).
Businesses are highly interested in location data since it enables them to decipher buyers’ interests. WI-FI services at restaurants and other public gatherings have facilitated this infringement of privacy. Third-party trackers now access internet data, including age, gender, interests, and names through Free WI-FI connections in public facilities (Dwoskin, 2014). Companies about to start a financial relationship with a buyer particularly find this kind of data useful; mortgage firms and insurance organizations are common culprits.
The workplace is not immune from unwelcome peeking as well. Human resource departments can now use third-party data to profile their workers (Claypoole & Payton, 2012). Some analyze personal social media content and use it to either promote or fire workers. One may lose one’s job if one has a pattern of posting controversial information on social media.
Prior to the information age, only an exclusive group of people knew people’s secrets, but the proliferation of the internet and smart devices has changed all this. Advertisers and technology companies have formulated creative ways of tracking consumer behavior. This way, hyper targeted promotion has become a reality. Furthermore, organizations are now making strategic or human resource decisions on the basis of secretly-acquired information. In light of the above discussion, one may say that privacy is now a thing of the past.