John Naughton: The profits and perils of drilling for crude data

Our online information is the raw resource of the digital age, yet mining it can be risky for the new industrial giants

“Data is the new oil,” declared Clive Humby, a mathematician who was the genius behind the Tesco Clubcard. This insight was later elaborated by Michael Palmer of the Association of National Advertisers. “Data is just like crude [oil],” said Palmer. “It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so must data be broken down, analysed for it to have value.”

The extractive firms of cyberspace provide ‘free’ services to their users in return for their personal data trails

Related: UK spy agencies have collected bulk personal data since 1990s, files show

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