My Data Is (Not) Your Data

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During a recent visit to my doctor for a yearly check-up I was handed an iPad at the desk and was asked to review my medical history. Under my current medications, I was a little surprised to see my flu shot listed since I had received it in our N.Y. offices as part of a wellness program at Jobson.

I still can’t figure how they tracked that flu shot and can only surmise that it showed up on my insurance history with Blue Cross and Blue Shield—but how did my Stamford doctor know that? I really don’t care that my doctor was privy to my flu shot. But a few years ago, when two other doctors experienced security breaches and my personal information was exposed I was very concerned.

It seems, we live in an age of information overload, where the Facebooks, Amazons and Googles of this world seem to know a little too much about our habits and whereabouts. For several weeks, that desk chair I bought as a Christmas present kept showing up in my newsfeeds. My philosophy? It’s a way of life, like the fact that all my medical records are now electronic. It’s beyond our control. Or is it?

Data privacy has been in the headlines a lot lately and the laser focus has been on Facebook and how it gathers and disseminates users’ info. Time Magazine recently devoted an entire issue to the subject and featured an editorial by Apple’s Tim Cook who urged consumers to advocate for their digital privacy and called for “federal privacy legislation to put consumers in control of their data.”

For many years I’ve been criticized for not being on Facebook. A recent study looked at what happens if people quit Facebook—more time with friends and family, fewer partisan feelings and an extra hour a day of downtime. Maybe I’ve been ahead of the digital curve all along.

mkane@jobson.com