While some people aren’t concerned about businesses tracking their customers’ spending habits, likes and dislikes and comings and goings, others see it as an unwanted invasion of privacy.

For those in the latter camp, new tools are emerging to help wage the battle against Big Data.

Dozens of new products claim to make sure that personal data isn’t being seen by anyone the person in question doesn’t want to see it.

Among them is Disconnect, which allows users to track who’s watching their online searches and, if desired, search privately.

Another piece of software, known as SympleID and created by Waterloo’s Richard Fox-Ivey, uses swipe card technology to create new, encrypted passwords every time you use your phone.

“If someone finds my smartphone, it’s of no use to them,” says Fox-Ivey.

“All my credentials are encrypted locally – and without my ID, they can’t decrypt them.”

On the other side of this battleground sit companies like Cisco, which recently committed $100 million to fund an innovation lab in Toronto.

Inside the lab, work is done on the tech giant’s ‘internet of everything’ initiative, which aims to allows all electronic devices to talk online.

“Collectively we will experiment, innovate, learn and co-create on ideas and innovations that will transform industries,” Nitin Kawale, president of Cisco Canada, said earlier this month.

As the efforts to use and block the use of personal data grow, so too do the legal issues surrounding them.

That’s where Pat Forte comes in.

The Waterloo-based lawyer specializes in looking at how companies monitor personal data.

She says employers often can’t help themselves from looking up prospective employees online – even though doing so can also put them in touch with information they don’t want, like religious beliefs and marital status.

“An employer can’t know those things about a prospective employee or their employees for the purpose of hiring,” Forte says.

As a result, Forte says, many companies are turning to third-party hiring firms who may see all that information, but only pass on the relevant bits.