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Library, supermarket and my data

I had two experiences this month. First, we’ve enrolled in our local library membership. The moment I went in the building I immediately fell in love with the whole concept. Everyone just hangs out there, reads something, surfs the web on a public computer or plays a board game. I see public spaces like this as a quintessence of human development on this planet. Very cool.

So I’ve signed up for a membership the same evening. The organization behind the library asked for my full name, address, date of birth and email. I had to agree to the terms of use. I had to pay the required fee through a trustworthy 3rd party service. That’s it — I could use all of its online resources from that moment. If I need to borrow a physical book from the library, then I’m required to present a document confirming that I live at the claimed address. All of this totally makes sense as libraries are supposedly subsidized by the local authorities, who are financed by the tax system, and they need to make sure only the people who live in the neighbourhood are getting benefit from it.

There’s a supermarket I like to get my groceries from. I also like the place — relaxed atmosphere, the produce is of a high quality and without packaging. They have a membership programme which offers significantly lower prices to the members. Sounds cool, so I tried to register for it. The process made me more worried with every step. I was required to provide personal data, including photos, for all members of my family. Then they directly asked for my bank account details. In the very last step, they required me to agree that they will send my data to a credit score company for a check. At that point I gave up. Yes, I provided all of my personal data by that point, but the last step made me not to contribute any further into the sunk costs of this whole endeavor.

I don’t understand why a supermarket needs my photo, my bank account details, and sends my data for a credit score check, when I put in my credit card at every check out. I wonder if they need any of my data at all. I can pay my monthly membership at the check out as simply another item on the bill. And the worst thing that happens is that someone abuses the discounting system by sharing the membership card between multiple people. But isn’t that possible to find out and block the membership?

Last edited on Jan 26, 2019