Privacy, the New Luxury.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Monday, 5th July 2010
You can run but you can't hide in today's world where your name can get hijacked, your mobile phone number disclosed and even your home phone is no longer safe. Yeoh Siew Hoon finds out.

Lately a few things that have happened are bugging me and making me feel my privacy – yes, I know, an old-fashioned notion in today's world of mass sharing – is being violated.

I find that my old blog posts are re-surfacing with my name tagged to products that I haven't even heard of. I mean, I don't mind if I am inadvertently endorsing Rolex watches but mainly it seems to be linked to some obscure product or other.

The first one came to my attention when Google Alert – yes, yes, I monitor my name to see where it is appearing; after all, as Jason Mraz sings, "Our name is our virtue" – surfaced an old blog post I had done after a visit to Toulouse to view the Singapore Airlines' Dreamliner many years ago.

I remember that visit well. I stayed at the Sofitel Toulouse and my hotel room came not only with a bed and bathroom but somebody else's full wardrobe in my closet – the mystery of who owned the clothes remains unresolved to this day. Incidentally, something similar happened to me at the Adelaide Hilton – the room I was given had somebody's clothes in one of the drawers. It stayed there throughout my stay because I have obviously come to accept this as part of a hotel experience.

After that, I received a series of alerts – one had a headline that said, "Tourism gets real – buy jewelry online" and the text read: "Yeoh Siew Hoon reports from ITB cheap mbt chapa shoe Berlin. Bombs in London. Bombs in Israel. A bomb in Thailand. Those were the headlines as ITB Berlin kicked off. Yet by the time the … Tags: real about were new from cheap mbt chapa ...
buy jewelry online - http://tracy.kellybloger.com "

Interestingly, a couple of weeks prior, I had googled MBT shoes because I was thinking of buying a pair of this new anti-shoe brand. It supposedly bounces as you walk so you don't hurt your joints.

Are the two linked? I couldn't help but feel paranoid.

Then several more popped up over the next weeks – posts I had long forgotten about and that had been hijacked by spammers in the ether.

As if this was not enough to make me afraid, very afraid, this morning, I received a call on my mobile from a man, with an American accent, saying he was from an investment company in New York and asking me to invest in carbon credits.

This is the second such call I have received on a similar investment, so obviously someone is flogging carbon credits in the name of climate change to unsuspecting folks.

Minutes later, I received a call on my house phone from a real estate agent asking me if I wanted to sell my apartment. "We have a serious buyer," she said.

"I'm not selling."

"What if the price is good? People are asking for S$1,000 psf in your neighbourhood."


"Do you own any other place?"

I hung up. It is good to be pursued as a buyer but I'd rather have my muesli in peace.

But it seems that in today's connected world, where we are leaving our footprints everywhere from Google to Bing to Facebook to Twitter, there is no peace to be had from those who wish to part you from your money and even your home.

Yeoh Siew Hoon, one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, writes a regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry for 4Hoteliers.com.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com . Get your weekly cuppa of news, gossip, humour and opinion at the cafe for travel insiders.

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