I’m on a bit of a personal 30 day challenge in the style of famous Google spokesperson Matt Cutts, or the myriad of Tumblr bloggers who feel the need to conduct one of those 30 day challenges to chain post something interesting about themeselves every day. But my challenge has real consequences surrounding what sites and what type of business I will allow myself to use, and it has arisen because I’ve come to the end of my tether with giving out my sensitive information such as my address and date of birth out to websites that really don’t need it.
My Never Ending 30 Day Challenge
I wrote a few weeks ago about how I wouldn’t give Quora my real name, and that they suspended my account and I have done rather well not to give in to them. This time however I have decided to not sign up for any service that requires personal information about me that it doesn’t need.
Case Study: Needless Personal Data
A few days ago I signed up for Busuu, a language learning community where I am currently trying to learn Spanish using their interactive multimedia tools. I like it and will write up more about it later, but after trialling the service for 7 days, the freemium model cut me off and I decided to start being a paying customer. Busuu accepts Paypal, great I thought until I saw the terms and conditions was that I had to give my address and date of birth. They aren’t billing me directly nor will they be communicating through the post with me, especially not a birthday card. They don’t need to know this for me to learn Spanish. I gave them a uniquely modified name and date of birth. This way I can tell what they are doing with my details the moment I get junk mail through the post to that name.
Today, as an England Football fan, I was looking on theFA.com for ticket prices for the Euro 2012 qualifier between Switzerland and England in Basel. To no surprise you have to be a registered member to find out this basic information. I can understand you would have to give them your details to receive your tickets, but the information so basic as the price should be available and I shouldn’t have to sell all my personal details to know this.
I fully understand why companies and websites do this, they want me to register my life long interest in every service they offer so they can target me for everything they want to sell in the future. They can also sell on my details to unless I register my objections to this.
My 30 day challenge will last for as long as I can, I’m putting on stop any website that wants to know personal data that it doesn’t have to, and I will be naming and shaming those sites that disagree with my ethos, as well I will be championing those websites that have good karma on this matter. A brilliant example of a website that doesn’t require too much is Twitter and this is part of the reason I love it. I still retain some of my anonymity with Twitter, all they wanted when I signed up was a username and email address. That is the way it should be.