Friday, March 7, 2014

Germany's Love Hate Relationship With Social Networks and Search Engines - Often Schizophrenic

Do you recall recently when Germany had a feces fit over Google's street view and satellite view maps, too much resolution and too much invasion of privacy they said, unacceptable they claimed and they sued. Google acquiesced and that case is history. Okay so let's talk because something else has come up, this time instituted by some pretty well connected folks in Germany's financial sector.

You see, there was an interesting article in the Huffington Online News titled; "SCHUFA, Germany's Largest Credit Agency, To Mine Facebook, Twitter for Consumer Risk Information," by Catherine New published on June 15, 2012. The article clearly stated;

"Forget the euro crisis. There's another credit storm brewing in Germany that hits much closer to the heart. It's on Twitter and Facebook. Germany's wired population and business press freaked out when a broadcast news agency revealed confidential documents that showed that the country's largest credit agency, SCHUFA, plans to scrape data from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to determine an individual's risk to lenders and ability to pay bills, according to Der Spiegel."

Now then, I suppose this is very similar to how insurance companies for auto policies in the US used credit card data and late fees to determine if someone was a greater risk of getting into an accident in their automobile - yes, it turns out that there is a statistical correlation. Still, that didn't sit well with many Americans, and although there was massive outrage, one must understand American politics, insurance lobbying, and how our government works to see why the rectifying of this problem went unabated for so long.

We should all note that social networks are getting a little too friendly with our information, a little too loose with which advertisers they choose as partners, and in the case of Facebook, now it's a public company and needs to make money - and data mining and big data are big business and big money. Worse, much of this information is free for the taking whether or not it is sold to the offending groups who want it or not, and as I note in this case study, it isn't just here, this is happening globally with your personal and private information.

Of course, in their defense, how personal is your data if you willy-nilly post it all over hell's half acre for all the world to see? Whose fault is that my friend? Please consider all this and think on it.