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I clicked on a website and a popup appeared asking me to agree to the terms and conditions. It seemed that if I said, “Okay” I could view the desired information, and if I said, “No” I would be directed back to my previous page.

Of course, I hit, “Okay” without reading any of the terms … and as we’ve discussed, I was likely held to them regardless: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/12/24/can-auction-bidders-be-held-to-things-they-dont-read/.

Later the same day, I opened a somewhat new app on my phone and had a similar experience. In fact, I’ve hit “I agree” and “Okay” and “Yes” hundreds of times in only the last few weeks. I never read any of the terms and conditions as I don’t have time, and know it doesn’t matter as clearly none of it is negotiable.

In fact, I’m an auctioneer so I well understand non-negotiable terms and conditions — as I uttered a phrase something like: “I need your driver’s license and acknowledgment that you agree to our auction terms and conditions …” just a week ago at a real estate [real property] auction. Don’t want to agree to our terms? You can’ bid on this property.

Today’s topic is “Who owns your data?” You may think you own your data and that nobody else has rights to house, analyze, use, or otherwise profit from it. However, you’re likely mistaken as data has become the most valuable corporate property of all and even if you deny one entity, there’s probably another entity for which you’ve shared your data, who is sharing otherwise.

Further, companies lie — just like almost everyone else does. Beware of any company who tells you as an auctioneer that they don’t retain, own, nor profit from your data because eventually, they will probably retain, own, and profit from it. Some are knowingly lying and others eventually realize the cost of lying will be less than the profit from it.

So what are auctioneers to do? Is there any way for us to protect our data — our information, our sellers’ information, our bidders’ information, our buyers’ information, property information? For that matter, is all that data ours? Today for auctioneers, there’s really no way to properly market ourselves, nor our seller’s property, without using technology, which in turn makes all that data subject to gifting and larceny.

We’ve suggested it’s almost assuredly too late to do something about this data ownership and/or sharing issue: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2021/02/27/auctioneers-is-it-too-late-does-it-matter/. In today’s environment, if you insist on not sharing any data, almost any online platform could (and likely would) simply refuse to serve your needs. The platform says, “Without the data, who needs your business?”

Further, we benefit from data sharing — in that, we see advertisements for things we’re interested in and otherwise not shown advertising for things we’re not interested in … and as auctioneers, our sellers benefit because we can better target the specific best bidders with our marketing. Platforms that have accumulated all that data better serve those auctioneers.

As a side note, if you as an auctioneer wish to avoid sharing any data with (virtually) anyone else, have a live auction and advertise with signage and maybe newspapers — clerk on paper, checkout bidders manually, and take all the money and paperwork home and put your feet up. Other than attendees recording prices, taking pictures and/or video, or your seller disclosing information about this auction, you’ve shared little if any data with anyone.

Lastly and importantly, it’s not all the data sharing/ownership issues that have auctioneers tied in a knot. Rather, it’s being duped — lied to — about all that data sharing/ownership and we auctioneers need to realize it’s not just our industry, but virtually all industries who have experienced this same phenomenon. At this point, we suggest you accept this situation and work to maximize it for your benefit.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services, and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Western College of Auctioneering. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.