Before this pandemic many headlines were about how 'Social' platforms were (still are) generating significant revenues off the use of our personal data.
The spotlight in 2019 shone brightly with the 'Cambridge Analytica' scandal. Which in turn highlighted how little governments and the general public were aware of how this stealthy move for using our online and purchasing behaviour was/is being used to influence elections, Brexit, and the outcome of Presidential leaders.
This Covid crisis is real - it's scary as shit, and for many it also means that today carefully protected and nurtured credit scores are being decimated in their millions, resulting in a process that could take individuals, businesses, and families years to repair.
You don't need me to tell you how much of our daily financial decisions are made by some murky algorithm, something that aggregates our transaction and payment history and determines commercial decisions made by others about us.
I doubt if these algorithms have sufficient AI built in to allow sufficient tolerance for the global market shift in country and personal economics, created by this once in a 100 year pandemic.
Without a doubt credit scores are going through the floor for far too many people through no fault of their own - including government ratings!
So, when I saw this headline below I thought at last, the ICO is showing its teeth with a potential outcome that will be of great help to reboot the economy - once we can get started, that is.
Credit reference agency Experian has been sharing the personal information of millions of people without consent and must stop, the UK's information commissioner has ruled.
The firm sold on the data to businesses that used it to identify who could afford goods and services, as well as to political parties.
The report found that the agencies had access to the data of almost every adult in the UK, which was then "screened, traded, profiled, enriched, or enhanced to provide direct marketing services".
This processing resulted in "products that were used by commercial organisations, political parties and charities to find new customers and build profiles about people", the investigation stated. The probe was limited to offline data broking, so did not include data collected about online behaviour.
That is being investigated by the ICO separately.
I don't know about you but I have never had a permission request, or a report from any credit reference agency telling me who has access to my data, and how much revenue they have generated from selling it on.
Of course they tell you it's all available for you to see as long as you pay a monthly subscription - placing the onus solely on the very source of its revenues!
With millions of people and businesses around the world trying to figure out how to survive, put food on the table, get through the festive season, juggle mortgage, rent, and other payments I wonder what the aggregated value of a credit score is going to mean in the years to come?
Finally, none of these services are free to use - unlike social media platforms where the mantra continues to be 'if the product or service is free, then you're the product'.
I for one will be watching to see how this plays out for sure!
What do you think will be the fallout from something we have all sleepwalked into accepting via these so called 'credit reference' agencies?
The two-year investigation was prompted by a complaint from the campaign group Privacy International. It found that Experian and two other credit reference agencies - Equifax and TransUnion - did a significant amount of "invisible" processing of data, meaning that people did not know it was happening. All firms provide a way for people to check their credit score for loans and credit cards. But they are also data brokers, collecting and selling on information gathered from a variety of sources.