Personal Data are getting much more importance in present business world. Every company look on reaching targeted customers. To do so, they need personal data. Age, occupation, mobile number, income and social status are important information upon which the target can be reached. These data are assets for a commercial organization. At the same time privacy is a fundamental right. You might have received number of blind calls from telemarketers if you have not registered National Do Not Disturb registry (See whether your mobile is registered for So Not Disturb read my previous article) This registry has been established to protect your privacy and keep you away from disturbing marketing calls.
In Europe privacy is fundamental right. UK has separate legislation for data protection under Data Protection Act 1998. This legistlation protects data from being misused, unauthorized use, unfair processing of data and collecting personal data by unlawful means. This protects the database market, more than that it protects privacy of the customer.
But in USA, Private data is treated as a commodity. They have future value. You can fill some discount forms to get discount by selling your personal data in some hyper malls. Then you start receiving SMS alerts on new offers! The data can be used for commercial activity. Safe Harbour Principles of USA protects personal data. Consumer has all the right to protect his data, he has the right to restrict the use and disclosure of the personal information. It prevents using data for the purpose other than specified. This means, if you have posted your resume in some job site, you won't get call from Sharekhan to market their online trading account.
Both the theories are right in their arguments. Many companies are now respecting your personal data. Some sites take your personal details up to your bank account. TRUSTe and Safe Harbour logos could be visible on these sites. There are some websites which asks your email address and fill your inbox with spam mails. What you think? Is your personal information is your fundamental right or goods that can be sold?