Data privacy in the cashless society

Just read this very good Choice article investigating loyalty schemes as a Trojan horse for harvesting personal data:
Data collection by loyalty programs

We have some limited ability to opt out of this “exchange” of personal information for rewards.

  • Avoid loyalty cards.
  • Use cash where possible to limit how often our purchase details can be harvested.

But now there’s a media push on to phase out cash, because"only criminals" need to use it (Virginia Trioli, ABC). I think she is wrong about that for a few obvious reasons. But if the cash haters get their way and we are forced to use electronic payment, the bank can easily merge our personal, location and purchasing data for every transaction and sell it to data brokers and share it with their partners.

How do we opt out of that?


Bitcoin et al. Of course, cryptocurrencies are not a great solution, and are no solution if you use your bank as the exchange.

It is possible that some ways will remain for the laundering of money - such as the local pokies - but they will probably fall by the wayside eventually in favour of cashless transactions.

As a community participant with a keen interest in security and privacy, I must admit that sometimes I weigh my options and choose to give away some privacy in exchange for a benefit. Giving up most cash transactions was an easy decision, as simply ‘putting it on the card’ saves so much hassle.

Our credit cards are issued on behalf of the local supermarket, and my wife and I get a lot of discounts/rebates from it. Sure the supermarket knows what we buy, but because we don’t use cash they would be able to know what we by simply based upon the card numbers - so why not get some benefit from it?

Cash is likely to lose its crown and its cachet over the next decade or so. Some countries are already phasing it out for certain parts of the economy. Personally, I would not like to go the way of Denmark with a central control, but there are plenty of advantages to getting rid of cash - along with some disadvantages.

I agree that cash is not ‘just for criminals’, but Australia does for the moment have at least a modicum of respect for personal privacy and laws against selling of one’s data wholesale. It is up to us to keep pressure on governments to maintain our personal rights in the face of the increasing collection and aggregation of data about us.