Perhaps the greatest change facing marketers over the next 10 years will be the increasing availability of customer information. In the past, most transactions were anonymous. Some were literally anonymous because they were cash purchases. More were effectively anonymous because customer information was not shared with any third parties. In the future, anonymity will be the exception. Ubiquitous video cameras, electronic access control and passive devices (such as RFID, location-aware cell phones, wireless toll- and fare-paying systems, and GPS-equipped automobile "black boxes") will track individuals throughout their daily lives.
Some of this data has long been captured but remained hidden within the system of origin. This veil of "practical obscurity" is being removed by government pressures for easy access in the name of national security. One major component of this surveillance apparatus, the REAL ID Act, which transforms drivers' licenses into a de facto national ID registry, has already passed into law. Proposed revisions to the USA PATRIOT Act, still being debated as this is written, would add federal authority to inspect business records of customer activity without judicial oversight.
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