That is the business model for so many companies nowadays. Let's mention a few of the ways corporations and government want to spy on us.
1. Cell phones. You are carrying a transponder that the government and cell phone companies use to monitor your movement and location.
2. Google. They keep track of your Internet server and all your searches, cataloging your location and interests.
3. Facebook. They delve into your address book and find people you have contacted by email. They also want your real name to sell to marketing companies; I suspect they find your location, too.
4. All Internet-related businesses. They all act like Facebook and Google as much as possible. Why do you get an invitation to join LinkedIn or Skype when a person you communicate with by computer joins.
5. Car GPS. "They" use those to monitor your movements. If you become a suspect in a crime, the scalphunters will use that data to try to frame you.
6. Reward programs. Retailers sell your purchase data to marketing companies who then create a profile for you.
7. Credit card purchases. See item #6.
8. Social Security numbers. Lots of businesses want those to help them validate their data files on you and improve their profiles of you by removing data from other like-named persons.
9. All government public information. Internet data companies mine this to learn more about you.
10. Internet browsing. Unless you close the browser after visiting a site, the site your were at can detect which site you next visit.
11. "Services" such as Zillow, Google earth, etc. They publish photos that will disclose your home and business from overhead views. Those photos are roadmaps for kidnappers and burglars ... and "them".
What to do?
Presuming you care about your privacy, you can use this knowledge to compartmentalize and let "them" know only what you wish "them" to know.
Don't carry a cell phone regularly.
Pay cash. Keep a few hundred dollars on you at all times. Unless the item costs more than that, just pay cash.
Don't use a "Rewards" card, or use use a friend's card - that will confuse "their" profile.
Don't give out your Social Security number. No one has a right to that number unless it is connected to tax reasons. There are many laws that govern its use. See ->
Beware of GPS devices in cars.
Overhead photos can be defeated by trees. Plant them and use them for concealment.
Street level spying can also be defeated by trees, shrubs and fences. Use them.
Compartmentalize your Internet purchases. Don't buy anything online unless you don't care if "they" learn about it.
Close your browser after visiting sites. Just re-open a clean version for each site.
If you use Facebook, etc., don't click those "like" buttons unless you want to broadcast to "all" that you really like that. Those "Like" clicks are gold to marketing companies.
Make your efforts a game - try to confuse "their" profile. I do that all the time. The more you mess up their data files, the less they can piece together about you. Your data becomes less valuable for them. When the supermarket gave me a coupon for tampons once, I knew I was succeeding.
Remember, just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean "they" aren't spying on you.
And I know ... I've seen black helicopters fly over my home years ago. Now the trees give me lots of concealment. :)
Word of the Day
"Grisaille" - noun [$10]
Grisaille means 1. a method of painting in grey monochorme, often to imitate sculpture; 2. a painting or stained-glass window of this kind.
Sentence: Use the simple methods I've outlined about to protect some of your privacy - give them grisaille instead of a full color version of your profile.