Macau Matters | Personal data in Macau

Richard Whitfield

I won the trifecta and have all the first world fat old men medical conditions – high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type II diabetes. For winning this race I get to have (seemingly huge amounts of) my blood taken every 6 months for analysis, and urinalysis every 12 months. My Macau government doctors now have 6+ years of longitudinal data of many medical indicators concerning my health but they never show any of it to me and I am confident that they have never drawn any graphs to look at trends. I find it quite bizarre that they take the trouble of collecting all this medical data about me and then do nothing to properly analyze it!

Early on, at my request, my doctor would ive me a copy of my test results so that my sister could review it – she was an intensive care specialist doctor for many years. However, more recently the Macau health department instituted a very complicated and troublesome process whereby I can buy some, but not all, of my own medical test results. Thus, I cannot obtain existing medical data about me to analyze myself or to have experts analyze it on my behalf. Again, this makes no sense to me.

I now buy some products online and have them delivered which is very convenient. These websites often ask me to review products I have purchased, and to help answer other customers’ questions about using products I have purchased and I have done so in the past. Many years ago, I had a job working on the help desk for a computer software company answering questions from customers. I have also previously worked as a product manager and in marketing doing product usability and quality studies and product design reviews. I am now starting to question why I should now be doing free work for these websites, work that I got well paid to do many years ago.

Also, every time I buy anything by credit card I get annoyed at paying a percentage of the purchase price to the credit card company. I worked for many years in computer software development and know full well that the cost for processing a credit card transaction is fixed and independent of the value of the purchase. Credit card companies also hold a lot of valuable information about me and my purchasing profile and history which they happily sell to third parties. It is no wonder that credit card companies are among the most profitable in the world.

Macau casinos and shopping malls contain tens of thousands of video cameras that can recognize individual faces and track people’s movements through their premises. They also monitor how much you gamble, and what you buy in their shops. This is all very useful data in helping these businesses decide what kinds of shops to put into what locations in their shopping malls and what kinds of special offers to present to you. It also helps them decide what gambling games to offer where and when in their casinos. I seem to get relatively little benefit from the reams of information these businesses get from analyzing my shopper/player activities.

The value of personal data is being increasingly recognized all round the world, and large Internet and other companies are under increasing pressure to protect the data they hold on people and give people the right to access and control data about themselves. Given the huge amounts of personal data now being generated in Macau, it is well past time that we have good personal data protection laws – yet another area where we can do much better.

Categories Opinion