In an ideal world we would all like to enjoy the benefits of personalisation without having to give up every fragment of information we've ever created. I would love to go on Amazon and have them recommend me a book without the knowledge that they've tracked and analysed my every movement for the past five years. In reality however, we all know that if we want to get the most out of today's internet, we have to live with the fact that major corporations know more about us than even our closest friends do.
Breaches in internet privacy are not unheard of and they almost always have catastrophic implications for the people whose information has been compromised. This begs the question as to why we are so untroubled by the invasiveness of company research and why we let companies get away with data gathering by simply saying, the more data you give us the better our service will be.
For the most part, we're all content with the fact that although it's not great that our data is collected en masse, it's fine if we are reaping some kind of benefit from it. We want the convenience of being able to go onto a website and have recommendations chucked at us, not only does it save us time, it often means we buy better, undeterred by the reams of products that have little to no relevance to our needs.
Amazon's new smartphone has the capability to track pupil and head movements in order to estimate the age, gender and ethnicity of the person looking at the screen. This seems to be pushing the boundaries of personalisation as it seems unnecessary considering the amount of data Amazon already has on us.
It's situations like this that blur the boundaries between what should be deemed acceptable and what shouldn't be. There's even been rumours that casinos will install retina scanners on slot machines so that they can tailor the gambler's experience based upon their previous visits. Casinos have never been known to try and save people money, so it is quite frightening to think what they are trying to achieve with this initiative.
The reality is that companies will push the boundaries until we the consumers speak up. I for one enjoy the blessings of the internet, and for time being, I am quite happy to continue to part up with my data if it means contributing to better, more efficient systems. It does however seem as if the tide is shifting when plans to place retina scanners on slot machines are being discussed without even a hint of jest. When all is said and done, if companies want our data they have to give us something in return, otherwise, personalisation will become something far more sinister very quickly.