Perhaps more to the point, who wants your personal data and what are they going to do with it? Are you sick of having to deal with the ACCEPT ALL COOKIES button every time you enter a web page?
You may ask what has precipitated this question? A few things, actually:
Brexit and GDPR
All Brexiteers love to blame the EU for everything they can pin on the Union. True, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the European Union and the European Economic Area. True, it can lead to irritation from time to time. Question, would you entrust your medical records to a data system run from Texas? If Trump wins this week? Will a trusted GDPR equivalent be put in place in time? Does the NHS Test and Trace system fill you with confidence that that will happen?
To be honest, if the UK National Health Service (NHS) retains its autonomy post-Brexit, I would be perfectly happy for my medical records to be available to trusted medical practitioners and accredited systems that have my health and wellbeing foremost. When seconds count and it's a matter of life and death why not have my records instantly to hand. If there be skeletons so be it. My life is more important. Anyway, surely legal protection is afforded against medics using my skeleton with gay abandon?
A few days ago, I received this text message from the NHS:
"Dear Mark Harrison,
"UK Blood Services are collecting plasma from people who have had a positive test for COVID-19. 28 days after recovery from COVID-19, you could save lives by donating plasma. For further information and to see if you can help others with COVID-19, please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus and click the take part in research section."
OK, I was up for this. What's not to like about saving lives? They clearly "knew" I had tested positive.
I took the plunge. It was a deeper plunge than I expected.
Ten, YES 10, poorly worded screens later I received this message. This was information that was in my medical records. Why did they invite me to "save lives" if they already knew this?
The subject of a central record spine was up for debate about a decade ago and, at the time, split the medical profession.
Please suspend your disbelief, but data security is way more sophisticated than the proffered alternative, i.e. a filing cabinet in an office. If that, indeed even still exists? Just about every GP in the land is connected to the internet these days so the electronic way in is already installed but not uniformly controlled ... one might argue especially from #CronyVirus.
Why is ACCEPT ALL COOKIES the default? It needn't be
It is a particularly aggressive message and immediately arouses suspicion that cookies will be following your every move, mostly so that your personal data can be sold to the highest bidder.
At best this highest bidder will want to use the data to sell you stuff, which can be positive or negative, depending on one's own view. But let those individuals who wish to be told what to buy make that decision for themselves and leave the rest of us in peace.
At worst, there are way more sinister reasons people would want to pay good money for your data ranging from the dark web to subliminal political messages (Brexit raises its ugly head again, here.)
When I encounter this ACCEPT ALL COOKIES button I do one of two things. If I'm not that interested in the site content, I veer away, which is self defeating for the site. If I am interested, I then have to trawl through a whole process that is time wasting and makes me irritated.
Of course it is very easy for the #CronyVirus pedlars to pass the monkey to the EU for the button and its messaging but that is so disingenuous. It is up to the individual site as to the content of the message accompanying the button.
Here is an alternative (a few sites actually do this!): "We value your privacy and use only essential cookies, which we delete when you exit our site. If you would prefer a richer experience, please click on CHOOSE EXTRA COOKIES to make your choice."
Believe it or not, I would choose this option for preferred sites. The NHS for one.