They May Be Watching Everything You Do

Subscribe to Elliot's BlogOne of the neatest innovations in the supermarket industry was the introduction of loyalty rewards cards. Supermarket customers sign up for a loyalty card, and the supermarket gives them special discounts that aren’t available to regular customers when the card is swiped at the point of sale. Not only do these loyal customers save money, but they are also privy to special offers from the supermarket. Sounds like a great deal, right?
Well, the reason supermarkets and other businesses are so happy about these rewards programs is because of the fantastic data that comes along with their usage. When you use your rewards card, the supermarket knows how often you buy milk, when you buy beer, what brand of condoms you use (regular or magnums), and a troth of other valuable personal data that you would probably be reticent to share. When you think about it, this is kinda scary.
This same type of thing happens every day in the domain industry, too – although it might not be as obvious. When you do a Whois look-up, that information may be stored by the company where you searched. When you purchase an appraisal or use a free appraisal service, that data may be stored, too. Same goes for your accounts with your parking companies – they know how much traffic your names receive, which niche makes the most money, and which of your names is your biggest earner. Even when you complete a confidential sale using an escrow service, the buyer and seller data may be seen by the escrow company.
I haven’t heard of any cases where this power has been abused, but you should be very mindful of the potential wealth of data you are giving out by performing every day business tasks. You should be especially careful if the companies or principals of the companies can use the data for a competitive advantage. I am all for domain companies hiring people who are familiar with the domain industry and how domain investors think.   However, with that comes the potential for privacy issues.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Can’t agree more Elliot. Usually I still go with the flow and use the reward cards, use google (w/o privacy protect), etc. But I do know in the end, it will bite me in the ass somehow…. Btw, I hope you aren’t recording my IP.. lol.

  2. Elliot,
    You make some good points. As you might imagine, tools like gmail, analytics and now chrome all collect data that you might not know about or be comfortable with.
    It’s easy to host your own mail, simple to install your own open source stats tools and Firefox is a great browser (without the google toolbar) !
    – Richard

  3. Regarding the loyalty cards, you can sign up using a fake name and address to protect your privacy.
    I have never been asked to show I.D. and I still get the discount.

  4. When you decide to be a part of the modern world (i.e. use a phone or electricity) your name is part if somebody’s database. If you use any form of payment besides cash, like credit cards or paypal, you are also getting “tracked.” This is for both the buyer and sellers safety. The price of this safety comes with trusting companies with our private information.
    I can’t prove, but do believe that one’s whole history is readily available to governments. Ever see “Enemy of the State” ?
    How’s this relate to domains? Until there is complete Transparent in the Domain industry (among others) and know for sure that our data is not collected for any other purpose than for our use (the clients) holding a healthy dose of skepticism?Paranoia? that our data is being bought and sold and even used against us (like whois look-ups) is a good thing.
    Remember when you use any form of tech for investigating and research or communication some computer some where is keeping tabs….

  5. Ha! Winn-Dixie, Kroger & CVS know how big my wiener is…hilarious. Not Publix though.
    I was also going to ask Patrick if he only paid in cash.
    But seriously, the momentum is already against privacy. Has been since the businesses started asking everyone for the Social Security number.

  6. @Ms Domainer,
    I disagree. You can protect your online privacy – if you really want to – by taking a few extra steps to check email, surf web sites etc.
    The problem I see is that many people don’t want to take the extra steps. 😉
    – Richard

  7. Ummm…. Patriot Act, folks. You’re not a “patriot” if you don’t agree to let the government sort through your daily (and nightly) activities.
    This extends to corporate control of a lot of personal data. I’m with Patrick on filling out the reward cards… give phony info. The government has already approached corporate america that collects personal habits of its citizens to share this data for the coming “Nationall Security Database” where your driver’s license, with your photo scanned (face recognition already in place) and any and all data available through the myriad of data networks online.
    What you buy, where you surf online, even your location on this planet (thru cellphone GPS triangulation) is being stored. Good? Bad? Depends on who controls it and what they want to do with it.
    Since our VP hides in a bunker 100 yards deep under some KFC restaurant, I’d say somebody knows something we don’t know. Just stock up on a lot of water and soup.
    Keep your info close to your chest. I’m not so worried about domain industry websites, I’m more worried about large corporate chains, credit cards, and even healthcare (me? have an STD? NEVER!) Just don’t let them insert that RFID chip into your arm or stamp “666” on your forehead.
    What’s really amazing to consider is that I can write just a few sentences in my comment that will get the FBI and NSA monitoring the blog, me, my family, my friends and business associates. That’s the facts of the world we live in. I’ll save Elliot and myself that abuse of govt by not writing those sentences. lol
    Great article, Elliot. It should wake people up to stay vigilant.

  8. Our privacy is already gone folks.
    People can google your name and find out all kinds of information. People can see where you live from Google maps. Anyone can go to your town hall and look up your property records including the cars that you own along with your license plates. Voting history too and whether you are a republican or democrat.
    If you leave your trash out, someone can steal your trash and find out LOTS of information about you.
    A couple pretext phone calls to your neighbors and anyone motivated enough can find the information they want and we’re not even talking about the FBI yet folks.
    This is not paranoid talk. I am not worried about this stuff. I’m just saying that grocery store cards are only one little piece of your privacy puzzle.
    The best thing you can do is to protect your privacy as much as possible and order one of those ID theft monitoring services. I use IdentityGuard (not affiliated with them in any way) and I bought the annual service. They give me email reports with all activity, search public documents, credit access etc.
    So, at least if someone gets my private information AND uses it, I get an email.


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