As farmers adapt more data-generating technology, such as mapping programs for yields, soil characteristics, and a growing number of other uses, companies are springing up to help us extract useful information from this pile of digital records.
In addition, we're using data management tools to track and analyze increasing amounts of financial information. I have spoken before about producer concerns about keeping these numbers confidential, especially as we collect and store them off-farm via the famed Cloud.
That worry is still with us, but we can now another privacy question that will affect virtually all of us. Last October the Federal Communications Commission proposed new rules to prevent carriers like Verizon or Comcast from collecting and selling without permission customer information about what websites you visit, when you visit, and how long you spend there.
As you can imagine this information has considerable value to advertisers. With the new administration and new FCC appointees, those rules have been cancelled, leaving carriers essentially free to merchandise your internet habits.
This is not a big deal to the most of Americans, especially if the data surveillance is somehow advocated as a necessary defense against terrorism, which is debatable. And even though we have little trust in online security, the problem is too complex to warrant the work needed to grapple with it.
I don't have many words of wisdom here, other than the obvious advice to assume your information is at risk every time you log on, just like you should assume you are on some video device anytime you are in public. But I will say this: farmers are likely fretting about the security of the wrong set of data from their farm. Personal data privacy should be our top concern.