Privacy is a big deal these days and rightly so in my opinion.

Everything we do, and everywhere we go, is seemingly being watched and there appears to be a growing resistance to it under some circumstances.

But the one thing that really stands out to my mind is how different people feel about their own personal privacy and what each of us deems to be acceptable or not.

For instance, the majority of people I know take umbrage at the fact that various governments around the world are keeping tabs on web activity, even if it does come under the umbrella of ‘keeping us safe’ from all the bad guys who want to destroy us and our way of life.

But, curiously, many of those same people think nothing of going onto their favourite social networks and sharing their entire life stories with distant relatives, friends and (potentially) millions of other people they do not know at all.

Equally, I also know a few people who constantly whine about CCTV surveillance and traffic cameras but who don’t give a second thought to having their own personal cams inside their houses so they can monitor what their kids get up to whilst they are out at work.

Mixed messages much?

So with the above in mind I give you the story of a New York restaurant that uses Google to check out its patrons before they arrive to dine.

The maitre d’ at Elvedon Madison Park restaurant starts his day by using the web to check out the eating establishment’s bookings for that evening.

Justin Roller Googles every diner in the hope of finding out as much as possible, the intention being to make their attendance an experience to remember.

Roller goes way beyond learning first names and looking at faces – he also wants to know whether a guest is a wine fanatic or a chef (I wonder if the latter would affect the level of service given?) He also wants to know where diners are from so that he can match guests with servers from the same area if possible.

He also wants to try and determine the reason for the visit – if it is a birthday or other special occasion he can then use that information as part of his greeting.

Now some of you may be thinking this is great service to the customer and of benefit to the restaurant itself and, in many ways, it is.

But one person’s delight is anothers’ cause for concern.

To my mind, being wished a happy birthday by a stranger on a night out is a little creepy – sure I’ve arranged for the same for a significant other, along with banners and a cake, etc., but that was my choice about how their birthday information was shared – I don’t want retailers and other service providers presuming that information shared on the net is business data (and the same would go for those companies that used to spam me rubbish on my birthday via snail mail years ago when I was far less savvy than I am now).

It isn’t. And thats how I want it to remain.

I’m not you though so my thoughts may be completely alien to your views.

What do you think about companies digging into your life prior to doing business with you? Are you concerned that they may dig too far? Or would you be happy to deal with a business that knows you better than they ought to?

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