Your online data is being turned into a digital mugshot and is being sold


ST. LOUIS– Specialized tech companies are creating a digital mugshot of you. These companies collect your data and create a “surveillance score” that can even predict one’s future behavior.

Scott Schaffer, Chief Information Security Officer of Blade Technology, Inc., says more and more firms are creating these digital portfolios using your data and selling it to people who want it.

Schaffer says your smartphone is a big culprit because it is constantly collecting data about where you are going, what you are doing, what you are listening to, etc.

Here are some examples:

  • CoreLogic and TransUnion provide these scores to landlords to predict if a tenant will pay on time or break a lease.
  • Automobile insurance providers track your driving behavior and assign you a “safe driver” score.
  • Brand-name retailers purchase “risk scores” from Retail Equation to help make judgments about whether consumers commit fraud when they return goods for refunds.

He also warns that thing you posts on social media could also be used in this portfolio. Schaffer explains if you comment about your landlord not fixing something, that could become part of your digital mugshot.

What can you do: Unfortunately, Schaffer says there is not a whole lot you can do about this unless you don’t want to participate in society. He said to avoid it you wouldn’t be able to surf the web, pay a bill online, use a smart speaker, etc. He says it’s nearly impossible.

What can be done: Schaffer says what needs to happen is these specialized tech companies need to be reigned in. He says people deserve to at least know what data these companies have on us.

Another option is that the U.S. could adopt something like the European Union’s data protection rules. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) says EU citizens have the right to protection of their personal data.

Schaffer says while we can’t stop it from happening, there’s hope the future will bring a framework and legislation to stop these kinds of companies.

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