As a technology-law blogger, I monitor emerging developments in information technology. What’s hot in IT today? Any short list would have to include social media, mobile, wearable technology, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and Big Data.

That list is all over the map, right? So, what’s the connection between, say, social media and the IoT? Or wearable tech and cloud computing?

Here’s my theory: They all reflect the ceaseless drive by businesses to collect, store and exploit ever more data about their customers. In short, those technologies are ultimately about selling more stuff to us.

With this unifying theory in mind, one sees how seemingly disparate technologies complement one another. And the challenges and risks they pose become clear.

Data collection

Let’s start with the collection of consumer data. When we use the Internet, marketers are tracking our activities; the data generated by our online behavior is harvested and used to target ads that will be more relevant to us.

If we spend time on movie sites, we’re more likely to see ads promoting new film releases. If we visit food blogs, we’re going to be served ads selling cookware.