Century IT blog

Digital Profiles

June 16th, 2013


Business man holding board on the background, Data Protection



What are Digital Profiles?


This is a complex subject and can be difficult to understand the far reaching implications of using technology in our todays ‘connected’ digital world.


Even if you don’t have a computer and are not listed on a social networking site, you still have a digital profile. Digital profiles can be inadvertently created in a variety of different scenarios. Human beings leave a digital trail behind them when they use any electronics, often without their knowledge or consent.



You don’t need to be on social networking site to have a digital profile


Lets consider the following scenarios


Example 1:-

The vast majority of us have a television, consider how TV companies, Satellite TV or Cable TV companies decide if certain channels, films or T.V programs are popular?

What about if you subscribe to a movie streaming service? How does that movie streaming service company provide you with recommended and personalised TV watching list?

Its simple, by collecting data about you, what you watch, when you watch it and how you watch it and storing this information in a database, thereby creating a digital profile of you.


Example 2:-hard drive internals

Lets consider the good old trusty telephone line, nothing as exciting as a mobile phone, but just a standard landline phone. How do the telecoms companies work out how much you should be paying each month?

Their computer system monitors activity on your phone line and logs everything (telephone number called, duration) to a database. This information is then manipulated so a computer program can figure out how much to bill you at the end of the month, thereby creating a digital profile of you.


Example 3:-

Lets consider mobile phones, how do mobile phone providers control who can connect to their mobile phone masts?

By each mobile phone having its on uniquely identifiable serial number.

With this level of control, mobile telecoms providers can monitor which mast/s you are connected to, log how many calls you make, record how much Internet data usage you use and how many texts you send. Using these communication towers, your exact position can be triangulated and your movements can be logged to a database thereby creating a digital profile of you.


Example 4:-

Lets consider supermarket reward or loyalty cards. Besides people collecting credits, points, deals or discounts, the supermarket are able to offer your concessions and vouchers on based on your our purchase history. How is this possible? Well would it be a surprise if I told you that supermarkets build a digital profile of its customers, their spending habits, regular purchases and their diets, thereby creating a digital profile of you.


Example 5:-

The obvious Digital Profile is to list yourself on a social networking site. You will build a Digital Profile on your ‘Likes’ and ‘Dislikes’, your friends or connections. Where you work, where you go, what you eat, where you were born, your age, what schools and education you have, your working history, if you are ill, and you will also include numerous photographs of yourself, your family, your friends.

Thereby creating a Digital Profile of yourself.



So Everyone is Being Watched? 

There are many, many different digital profile scenarios you could consider and the examples above are not exhaustive by any measure, but suffice to say you probably have numerous digital profiles of yourself, your spending habits, your eating habits and your travelling habits probably without your knowledge and consent.

In simple terms, you will leave a digital finger print if you use technology.




I am not sure that it is the case that everyone is being watched, but if recent tabloid events are reviewed then I think that it is the concern that our private lives are no longer private and that government agencies are gathering all of these digital profiles together into one big database without our knowledge or consent.


I think the public concern is who is looking at all of this information, for what purpose and what end.


What regulation body is watching the watchers?