Phone hacking – we know you’re out there

Phone Hacking
Source: Flickr

As the phone hacking controversy continues, I am reminded that once I helped police with their enquiries as part of Operation Weeting.  Hard to believe, I know, but my conversations with a friend were listened in to by people looking for a story when hacking and not fracking was all the rage.

I will admit, though, that it wasn’t my side of the conversation that they were interested in.  I could never imagine them holding the front page for revelations about my arthritic hip; the trials and tribulations of a marriage that was in its death throes; or rants about who Manchester United should sign.

It was my friend who held the golden ticket.  Let’s call her Josie for the purpose of this exercise (although her real name is Charlotte…).  She worked for a management company that handled the footballer of his generation; a celebrity who has been voted the sexiest woman of all time; and a Pop Idol winner.

It’s odd to think that people sat and listened to our ramblings in the hope of hearing a sensational snippet they could tell/sell.  My, how disappointed they must have been when we spoke only of her quest for a husband; how I was turning into my father; and why City would always be in United’s shadow.  (It was some years ago, remember…).

I still get the impression, though, that someone is ‘listening in’, albeit only metaphorically.  I receive a deluge of emails from Amazon every day, telling me that they have something for me that I really want.  It’s up to 27 emails this week recommending golf books because I bought one as a present last week.

This is because Amazon are ‘leaders in the field in getting actionable insights from information, using collaborative filtering technology, which allows it to develop automatic recommendations for customers based on their purchase history data’.  (And as an aside, have you ever actually met anyone who works for Amazon.  Spooky, or what..?).

Every time I book a hotel online I get deal after deal from hotels in that location, even though my first trip to Skegness for a store opening will be my last; flights and train journeys reveal a lot about me, it seems.  And as for my shopping habits, even on a staple diet of salads and beer, I am still targeted daily with food for thought.

These days data is king, allowing companies to see individuals through their personal narratives.  They can account for their choices, comments and views, allowing them to deliver content, products, and services in a channel and at a time that is right for them. Or, some might say, to convince them to buy things they didn’t even know they wanted.

Meanwhile, if anyone wants to listen in to my conversations, don’t bother as I bore myself these days.  The hip is fixed; the marriage is broken; and United still need to buy new players.  And as for Josie/Charlotte, she found a husband and is a mum to be at 41.  Now that’s what I call a good news story…