The massive fines imposed on companies such as BA and the Marriott group are a warning to big data hoarders
A hedge, says Wikipedia, is “an investment position intended to offset potential losses or gains that may be incurred by a companion investment”. Most stock market investors (and pension funds) buy shares in the hope that they will go up in value, and are distressed if they don’t. In the 1940s a genius called Arthur Winslow Jones invented an investment fund that could place bets on both rising and falling share prices and therefore make money no matter what happened. Thus was born the hedge fund, the defining characteristic of which is that it eschews optimism and profits from well-informed pessimism. Hedge funds are thus the predators of the capitalist jungle, constantly on the lookout for prey.
A few years ago some hedge-fund guys, pondering the threat of climate change, came on a campaign conceived and orchestrated by the Guardian, Keep it in the Ground. As the then editor, Alan Rusbridger, described it: “There are trillions of dollars’ worth of fossil fuels currently underground which, for our safety, simply cannot be extracted and burned. All else is up for debate: that much is not. We need to keep it in the ground”.