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Time to worry much more about data privacy and profiles

The irony, the irony – everyone saw Europe’s data privacy initiatives.  Why has this taken so long here? In a word – lobbying. The congressional hearing droned on, and Mark Zuckerberg tried so hard not to sound condescending towards his techno-light questioners about the so-called ‘Facebook Scandal.’ Which could have been the Google scandal, the Twitter scandal, or even Amazon -- consolidation of industry players and using the data to sell them (or make ads ‘more effective’) or as with Amazon, sell them more stuff. The real scandal? Not the Cambridge Analytica role, which didn’t exactly sneak around in the long-time and paid analysis of Facebook data. The real scandal might be last year's $30 million of lobbying spent to avoid controls (and user protection) actions like those considered and in process in Europe.

What cannot be controlled - market domination. Unless the federal government gets more involved in oversight of acquisitions, useful software companies or services are perpetually driven out of business when the big guys swallow up the competition -- What’s App, Instagram – did the government even peep when those deals happened? Or when they form into near-monopolies like Amazon.  At the very most polite, a ‘smaller group of players’ (see proposed Walmart and Humana). Remember that Google gets 78% of all search ad dollars.  That meets the definition of ‘dominant’ if not quite a monopoly – what happens when it is 90% or 95% -- is that a monopoly?  At that point, and when all other search ad dollars have evaporated, that is an Amazon moment – think book stores and the destruction of nationwide retail stores, say, in malls? Or auto parts?  

The favorite rejoinder – we brought this consolidation, uh, monopoly, on ourselves.  We like convenience of ‘qualifying for free shipping’.  Really?  We hate being in retail stores – thought that may not apply to all -- not millennials and not baby boomers. We like that there is only one check-out process, no matter who the behind-the-scenes seller is – and that always works out for the seller – though maybe not so much.  And that one-click ordering, we like that, though -- accidents happen.  Meanwhile, Amazon knows our profile (so that we can shop).  Facebook and Google know our profile in much more personal depth – so that we can…what exactly?  And consider how tools to manage these profiles, enabling shutting off default settings, have emerged long after the profile was created and the data was provided to…whom?

Older adults will be increasingly vulnerable to defaults and privacy hacks -- not just AARP-monitored scams.  Protecting our data privacy in dominant tools like Facebook and its Instagram (new process introduced April 12, 2018), Google, Twitter, and Youtube -- many days late and millions of dollars short.  As we encourage older adults to go online and into tools that involve family photo and video sharing, what else is being shared?  And how would you know there was a problem with this sharing by default -- unless the press caught wind of it, whether it is about Cambridge Analytica or European Union initiatives, or AARP posted about it on March 28, 2018?  Who is watching out for older adults in the online world of default sharing, especially with their health data -- and who will train providers, families, and the health industry, including assisted living and long term care -- on the use of privacy hubs as they emerge?


I like that Amazon represents a lot of sellers, using them means only Amazon has my data, and not a seller I know nothing about. Also, Amazon has a customer is always right return policy, which means i know that no matter how the seller feels, i will get my money back. Price is almost always better on Amazon, than it is on independent sites. The competition among sellers within Amazon, means the customer gets the best of both worlds, the security of a large organization, and variety and competition from small sellers.