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However much you may hate the idea of the NSA spying on you, this game drives home how Big Data is enabling the surveillance economy's real Big Brother.

Namely, Big Business.

As the New York Times reports, a group of developers in Austria has launched an online game called Data Dealer that aims to make the business of consumer profiling more transparent - hopefully opening up a lot of eyes in the process.

The idea: amass and sell fictional profiles with personal details from names and social security numbers, to dietary habits and sexual orientation, and then sell it all to the highest bidders. As the game puts it, "Privacy? Screw that!"

The developers are even raising money on Kickstarter to finance a new version that lets users play against each other - and hack each other's database to steal their trove of profiles. Or, in the vernacular of the game: "Legal? Illegal? Whatever."

In my book, THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, I argue that while technology increasingly enables us to market down to granular levels of consumer profiling - even to the proverbial "niche of one" - society at large has a responsibility to make the decision to use the technology very carefully, as do we as marketers.

As is clear in recent headlines, this is not a philosophical debate about speculative scenarios. It's here, it's now, and it's happening today.

Consumer backlash will no doubt pressure brands to course-correct in some instances - though government regulation like the kind being put forward by the Federal Trade Commission - may be required to stem more insidious practices.

Digital technologies can offer tremendously powerful ways to enhance the brand experience - forever transforming the way consumers interact and transact with the brands they know and trust.

The operative word here is "trust." Trust built on the recognition that brands exist for consumers, not the other way around. And on values that respect and transparency.

Watch the YouTube trailer above, read the New York Times piece, and then, if interested, play the game yourself.

Time will tell if it starts a conversation that's long overdue.

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