I admit I have a problem. I love gadgets and electronics. I don't necessarily consider myself leading edge - I still don't have a 3D television, I enjoy the Wii more than the Xbox 360, and my primary tablet is a second generation iPad, but that does not mean I don't try to stay up with advances in the latest electronics. The latest edition to the DeCastro household was Google Chromecast. I figured for $35, what is the risk?
Well, after just a couple of weeks I can honestly say that Google Chromecast is a pretty cool technology. I opted to plug it into my receiver as opposed to directly to the television to utilize my surround sound, and this is what now has me concerned. You see, my receiver must be told which HDMI output to utilize. The Chromesast devices is on an AUX HDMI port. This morning my youngest son started singing the song from Saturday Night Live called "What's Up With That" . I was in a fun mood so I pulled it up on YouTube on my desktop and started watching. When he come over to watch, I then used Chromecast to put it in the bigscreen TV in the living room by just clicking on an icon in my Chrome browser. I was startled when my receiver must have gotten the instructions from the Chromecast device to switch to AUX port and it started to play automtaically on the big screen. Convenient yes, but also a bit concerning. Did the device honestly tell my receiver to go into HDMI AUX mode?
Google seems to have gotten the business model right - it is all about the information and the data. But how much data are they collecting since I plugged in the device? Do they know the shows I am watching? The commercials I fast forward and the one's I watch? The shows we record? How often the TV is used? The brand and model numbers of my TV, receiver and other components? And how much control do I have on the security and data being sent? If at some point I begin to utilize the TV more into my financial life, will I be able to do so without having Google know that information? I suppose if I was really that concerned, I would just unplug Chromecast when not using it - but that is too involved and honestly I am not that concerned (yet!).
As we continue to see further advances in technology, there may be a point where our privacy becomes more important than the convenience. How much one is willing to give up should be a personal choice. Sure, there are somethings that consumers have no control over that financial institutions will use to get what they need. This could be demographic information, a credit score, or past account transactions to help with targeted marketing or with a decisioning process. But what happens when our web and TV activity begins to enter the process? Could a bank be less willing to extend a line of credit to someone who has been searching for videos on "How To Run A Ponsi Scheme" - or has a one way ticket to a tropical island booked? Is that just good information or would that mean we have gone too far?