June 04, 2013, 4:16 PM — Ask someone if they care about privacy and they may laugh and say no, don’t be silly, we have none. Ask them if they care about having their Social Security Number or health records buttered all over the InterWebs, however, and you’ll probably get a different answer.
When people talk about privacy, the biggest mistake they make is to talk about privacy. What they really need to be talking about is data. Because all data is not created equal.
Some types of data are more sensitive than other data, just like some photos (your corporate headshots) are more sensitive than others (those Tijuana party pix with you and that donkey in the sombrero). Some types of data are also worth more money than others. And if your data is worth money, shouldn’t you be seeing some of that?
This is where companies like Enliken step in. A few months back Enliken surveyed 600 people about what data is collected about them and how they feel about it. The results are quite enlightening. In general, people care a lot more about their political, health, and financial privacy than they do about their shopping, interests, or travel data.
You can see this for yourself. Go to Enliken’s Data Accuracy page, and click the Rate Your Data button. (You’ll need to do this using Firefox or Chrome, and it won’t work if you’ve opted out of tracking cookies.) Enliken installs a browser plug-in that scans your hard drive for cookies left by five of the Web’s biggest profilers – AOL, BlueKai, Exelate, Google, and Yahoo.
Then it shows you the categories these profilers think you’re interested in, and asks you to rate how accurately it describes you and how sensitive the information is. The following chart shows the results from the 600-odd surveys filled out so far.
* The most accurate category is technology buyers. Some 88 percent of survey respondents rated that profile as accurate, and only 3 percent cared whether anyone knew about it.
* The least accurate category? “Moms of Gamers.” Nobody got that right.
* The most sensitive category: Nearly 40 percent of respondents objected that the profilers had categorized them as Republicans. That data was also only accurate 9 percent of the time.