MARK BARNES: Data miners intrude on privacy in the name of profit with unsolicited offers
‘The right to privacy and freedom of movement must apply for the innocent in the ether, as much as it does in the physical world’
Whenever the message starts with "Dear Mr Mark Angus", I know it’s someone I don’t know peddling something I don’t want. I’ve just got another one – Happy Spring Mark Angus. I guess they just picked up the first two name fields and sent out their mass marketing spam. I know my seasons and my surname isn’t Angus. Go away. I don’t like these messages. I never open them. I never respond. In that sense, the sender has achieved quite the opposite of what it set out to – let’s call it reverse marketing. Whatever the purpose, however virtuous the message is intended to be, I think it is invasive. It should be illegal. At least the spam we get on our cellphones is visible and, on most social-media platforms, blockable.Data mining is essentially the practice (or should I say, business) of distilling useful information out of masses of raw data. Data miners look for patterns and associations among pools of innocently generated data, and then see what value they can extract. More often than no...