March 30, 2018
“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here,” is the famous quote from the policeman in Casablanca (who promptly collects his winnings in Rick’s “illegal” casino).
It was an open secret that gambling was taking place at Rick’s, and it seems to me a likewise open secret that data collection is happening at Facebook, Netflix, Google, MoviePass and numerous other websites at which we access content or information for little to no price. As long as Wall Street is collecting its winnings and consumers are getting information at no cost (Google), a personal website at no cost (Facebook), or content (Netflix, MoviePass, etc.) for an obscenely low subscription fee, everybody looks the other way as these sites collect personal data.
Pardon me if I’m not surprised that these Internet goliaths are allegedly selling, neglecting or taking advantage of outside exploitation of our data. That is their business model. I’m more surprised that consumers are just now seeming to catch on. A March Deloitte survey found consumers are increasingly concerned about putting their personal data online, but it doesn’t seem that it stops them from continuing to expose themselves.
This month, I wrote a widely picked-up story in which I quoted MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe, who said of the theatrical subscription app: “We watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards.”
The reaction was outrage. Lowe and the company assured the public in a statement that they would not sell the data and backtracked on the tracking comments.
But to those shocked, I must ask why?
Didn’t we all know these Web goliaths were going to collect their winnings?