Since Google announced the gmail service there must have been a small rainforest of paper written about the privacy implications of scanning email. It’s never really bothered me (which you should not read as I don’t care about it – it just doesn’t bother me right now) and my lovely gmail account remains somewhat underused at the moment (oh, and I do have a spare of you’re interested and give me a good enough reason to send you the invite).
Anyway, Hublog has an interesting list of things Google knows about you (plus an interesting follow up). Froogle is not mentioned there but thanks to this link they could believe I’ve just searched on dog beds twice in 10 minutes. If they infer that I have a dog (or am about to get a dog) they would be misreading this data.
Lots of organisations have access to lots of data about you. That should never be the problem. Personally, I am on CCTV about 10 minutes after I have left my house until I arrive in the office. Anybody who cared to could tell you quite a lot about me from observing my travel patterns on a daily basis. My bank knows where I spend my money and my doctor knows about my illnesses (although I have been to other doctors that my main doctor is not aware of).
The point is that there are mountains of information about me available out there. The problem is that none of it constitutes a full picture of me as an individual and that is the real danger. Recording the data is not a problem until somebody tries to look at it. In itself that’s not a great problem until somebody actions an event because of that data. However, inferring something about me because of it is not a good idea.