As I read Seth Godin's post today concerning marketing relationships between products and people, I also checked on the trackbacks to see what others had observed as well. Jason Kolb had discussed in his post, "Google Knows Me Better Than I Know Myself." He discusses the implications of this type of search data being acquired by politicians and any other group imaginable. Companies, and likely, politicians as well, use data-mining tools to extract relationships and marketing potential out of seemingly unrelated data. This practice is commonplace.
In the real world, there are data brokers or aggregators such as ChoicePoint and Acxiom. These data brokers "collect information from public records, criminal databases, and other sources, and package it into reports that they sell to businesses as well as local, state, and federal government agencies." They and others have been in the news lately because of data losses and security breaches which fueled escalating fears of widespread incidents of identity theft.
We think we are secure and private, but try as we may, to the contrary, we are quite transparent... naked to the world. These aggregators collect data from pharmacies, medical records, credit card companies, schools, libraries and countless other sources of information. They can "paint" an accurate and disturbingly alarming portrait of each of us. A marketer can assemble and decipher data so that they know what you are seeing a physician for, what medications you take for it, where you buy your prescriptions and even the time of day that you prefer to do so. They know how much money you spend at the grocery store each week as well as the brand names of the items that you regularly buy. They know if you prefer sugar-free, unsalted or caffeine-free snacks.
They examine your credit card statements and know where you buy gasoline and how often as well as collecting data on each and every other purchase you make, where and when you make it, and how long before you will make your next purchase. The information in your credit file is minute when compared with this additional data that is constantly being compiled about you. Oh, by the way, they have your credit information as well.
When you couple this information with the now-seemingly mild data from MySpace, Google and other online aggregators, marketers can purchase any relevant data concerning you that meets their needs, cross-analyze it and study patterns to extract the information that they want.
There are few secrets anymore. We live transparent lives and are more vulnerable than ever.