Think about your habits on any given day. Check the weather on your phone in the morning? Data. Touch on a ticket to catch the bus or train? Data. Or drive a car through a toll gate. Data. Get out your phone again to scan the news feed? Data. Check in on Facebook? Data. Log in to the computer at work? Data. Point your browser to The Interpreter to read leading analysis of world events? Data. (Ok, we don’t collect your data, but you get the point that somebody could – and likely will be.)

Every day – indeed every moment – individuals are leaving an extensive data trail that tells a story about them as a person.

Every day – indeed every moment – individuals are leaving an extensive data trail that tells a story about them as a person. Add to your morning routine the streaming services people watch on TV of an evening, or purchases online, passing by a CCTV camera in the street, or the GPS monitor in a smart watch, or countless other activities – it is almost impossible to escape the capture of data in modern life. As Miah Hammond-Errey wrote for us earlier this year, “By 2020, it’s estimated that 1.7 megabytes of data will be created every second for every person on earth – including you.”

That’s by next year, not some imagined far-distant sci-fi future. How much information? See this chart for a telling comparison.