It is already a fact: with many products being tagged in the production process to monitor where they go or what trash can they finish in, our trash has officially become another piece of the juicy cake of data mining.
As Big Data gets more and more attention, new windows to our personal privacy open, and a new one might let out some stench: we are talking about “smart trash”. It involves tagging every trash item of households with a tracking tag that identifies where it is, what it is made from, etc.
Indeed, it may have several benefits as tags can notify collectors when garbage cans need to be emptied or what are the citizens’ recycling patterns like. However, many concerns arise, especially while considering that governments and private corporations already can mine our personal data and they are being able to gather information on where we go, with whom we communicate or what we search and buy, among others. Where the limit is becomes unclear.
It seems, however, that data compilation from trash is not as easy as it looks on TV, because linking trash collected from particular households to its origins is complicated. That said, trash tracking might make us uncomfortable, as well as it could become a significant source of value for marketers. Our garbage, then, is a stinky treasure.