Over 10 years ago, before we were married, my wife and I were visiting my family in Canada. As she is very creative, it’s impossible to walk past a craft store. We always go in.
And so, we found ourselves at the till with a basket of items. Before asking for payment, the cashier asked for an email address. My now wife responded politely “No thank you, may I pay please?”
I don’t know if it was shock or her British accent that did it, but after a few ‘uhmms’ the flustered cashier let us pay.
Weirdly, it was the first time I realised you could say no to providing personal information like your email address. I had found it strange that stores were asking for it. And annoyed that it meant would get marketing spam, but I didn’t realise I could say no. But we could, still can, and should.
This small act led me into the world of privacy, data, information sharing, and so forth. And I often think of that moment when considering why we collect the data humanitarians do before we distribute aid.
If people would say, “No thank you, I’ll just have the ‘aid.'” How would we respond?