A Shout Out to Big Brother

Sometimes, you have to be grateful that Big Brother is watching!

Yesterday, I get a call from the security and fraud department at Ticketmaster telling me that someone tried to charge $3,000 worth of tickets to my American Express account. They caught it—don’t ask me how—and my credit card company immediately closed the account and sent me a new card the next day. Frankly, I’m getting used to being compromised since last year, someone tried to charge $4,000 worth of computer equipment to my account and $6.41 at a Carl’s jr. in South Carolina. Well, there’s no accounting for taste!

For this reason, I can’t seem to get too bent out of shape about the National Security Agency’s Orwellian surveillance of “metadata” -–logs of telephone calls received and sent and data about credit card transactions. Basically, they are collecting data about data, enough of it to fill 37,000 Libraries of Congress, according to one report. The policy wonks and conspiracy theorists are having a field day arguing about the right to privacy.

But let’s think about the potential impact on retail for a moment and the billions of bits, bytes and big data that make up the industry’s much-touted loyalty programs. With the media splashing this all over their front pages and home pages, this might be the time to reassure customers that the information they give out is safe and being used to benefit them and not some governmental black op. As common as cybersecurity and cybercrime is these days, customers can be a little skittish. Why not take the time to allay some of their concerns? Or, am I being too paranoid?

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