Big Brother is watching… your supplier network?

So our governments – in the UK and the USA at least – are routinely picking up our personal data via the Internet, recording our phone calls, and probably peeping through our net curtains at us while we put our pyjamas on in the evening...

It’s also suggested that intelligence agencies even directly access the cables that transmit data. Now most of the media focus has been on personal data, phone calls and so on. But it occurs to me that there is also a question of business data as well here. Are the agencies also picking up for instance on the wealth of data and information that now flows through supplier networks – Ariba, Basware, Hubwoo, Coupa and so on?

You might wonder what benefit the government could get from knowing about our latest stationery order or request for a change in delivery date. but there might be interesting information to be gathered around trade flows, purchases from suppliers in “enemy” countries and so on.

And what about the competitive aspects? That is perhaps a more obvious danger and opportunity. Many companies would love to see what was going through a rival’s supply chain, including ordering patterns, prices, specifications...

So if the security services can get into these networks, could unscrupulous firms do the same? There are also all sorts of interesting conspiracy theories about links between governments and the big banks as well... imagine how you could rig the markets or the money you could make via insiders trading if you had access to everything going through the web.

Anyway, I suspect in time these developments are going to bring a more general and sharper focus on data security. It also probably means entrepreneurial opportunities for products aimed at worried individuals and firms in this field. Preserving your organisation’s confidentiality, where it is important, is likely to become a bigger issue for procurement executives (and others) as we become more sensitive about who else might be gaining access to our valuable information.

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First Voice

  1. The Business Network:

    Some networks take data privacy more seriously than others -

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