Koos Bekker, the recently retired CEO of listed media and internet giant Naspers, says that if you purchase online from one of the group’s e-commerce sites, it is able to gather large amounts of commercially-useful information about you.
Naspers’ e-commerce sites in South Africa include OLX, and Kalahari.com.
In an interview on news site, eNCA, Bekker said: “Just consider this: we know, if you buy from us, an awful amount about you. Not only what you buy, but what you research, which is commercially-useful, but socially ambiguous.”
He said that if a site like Kalahari.com detected that he has a love of history books, and directed related material in his direction, he would be appreciative.
“But let’s say I have cancer. Kalahari would also know that. Why? Because of the research I do, and think about what Google knows about you and what Facebook knows about you. If someone now starts sending me cancer treatments, I would quickly detect where this comes from and feel that it’s a very severe intrusion on my privacy,” Bekker told eNCA.
“So e-commerce and search companies know an awful amount about how my family is constructed, who has which problem in the household, who has which interests, who searches which sites.”
“Over time we’ll find a way to extract the commercial element of that and make it more useful for the consumer, but also giving a certain amount of privacy protection. I guess the regulators are going to be active in this field.”
Forbes puts Bekker as the 1,213th richest person in the world with his wealth pegged at $1.5 billion (R16 billion).
Bekker led the founding team of M-Net/MultiChoice pay-television business in 1985. He headed the MIH group in its international and internet expansion until 1997 when he became chief executive of Naspers.
Following a year sabbatical, he will succeed Ton Vosloo as non-executive chair at Naspers in April 2015.