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Big Brother man: TV viewers will swap privacy for content

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Big Tent The man who brought Big Brother to the UK this week painted a nightmare vision of the future where people trade their personal information for the chance to watch TV programmes.

Peter Bazalgette, former chief creative officer of Endemol turned digital media investor, said old advertising models could not much longer support TV programme development.

"How are we going to to get the ad revenues that pay for the programming that people want to watch?" he asked Google's Big Tent conference on privacy.

"One of the ways is individuals will sell their data in return for programmes they want to watch."

Bazalgette didn't elaborate on what type of mechanism would allow individuals to surrender their most intimate secrets to enable them to, probably, watch other people reveal their own most intimate secrets.

Presumably highly targeted advertising will be the answer, though presumably the practice will also enable consumer goods companies to carry out extensive data-mining to establish the salient facts linking viewers of, say, the Hollyoaks omnibus with hand cream and baby oil.

While Bazelgette's vision might appear bizarre, he said users should have an absolute right to reclaim their data from anyone they have handed it over to, and said the mechanism was simply an extension of the way the NHS is trying to manage the UK citizenry's data.

In this model, he said, individuals have control over their personal data, but are offered the opportunity to consent to its use in research - and change their mind.

Which would probably make an excellent basis for a TV programme where viewers hand over their data for the chance to vote in a game show that allows competitors to show the body parts they're most unhappy with and compete for reconstructive surgery, either privately or on the NHS. ®

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