By Marc Dresner, IIR
My blog last week focused on data brokers and the looming threat of a Big Privacy backlash
in response to Big Data collection run amuck.
I want to
stick with Big Privacy this week, because I believe strongly that the
consequences of inaction for those in the consumer insights field could be more
serious than most of us realize.
high-profile gaffes by Facebook, Apple (I’m referring to “Locationgate” not the naked photo scandal) and the like have done much to educate
into with such companies.
because many of us did a rough cost-benefit analysis and, if not ideal, we found the
model acceptable, harmless, reasonable’
But I suspect that more likely than not, the relative absence of any evidence that suggests widespread public outrage has to do with the fact that people don’t think they have any choice in the
this to dismissed the idea, noting that Facebook isn’t forcing anyone
to use its network.
prevent the European Union Court of Justice from ruling in May that Google must amend search results upon request’a precedent-setting decision that asserts
the rights of the individual to control his/her personal data.
Indeed, it’s this notion of control (and informed consent) that we need to start considering when we talk about privacy.
People are just
now starting to wake up to the fact that information about them is being
collected by unknown others and used for purposes that they aren’t aware of and
might not consent to if they were.
public, I think, knows that privately held data’credit reports, purchase
histories, loyalty data’about them exist and are shared between companies, but
I’d wager few people understand the extent of this sharing or what policies or
rules govern such activity.
Josh Klein, author of ‘Reputation Economics: Why Who You Know Is Worth More Than What You Have,’ points out that most people would probably be surprised to learn that Acxiom and LexisNexis have been aggregating purchase history to develop health profiles, which they sell to hospitals who then
use the information to advertise targeted medical services.
“Tell people this sort of
thing and it’s no leap for them to imagine that information going to their
insurance adjustors,” Klein said in a presentation he delivered at TMRE’s sister event, Shopper Insights in Action, this past July.
People would probably be even more shocked to know what can be amassed about them in the public domain’tax
records, voting records, ethnicity, religion, who your neighbors are, if you’re
married, do you take care of your parents, do you have children, etc.
This information isn’t
just available to Big Brother; it’s available to, well, me if I want it.
Klein pointed out that Spokeo combs publicly available sources, aggregates the data and basically provides
a docier on individuals to subscribers for about $3 per month.
Now, you can opt out of a Spokeo listing, but you cannot close the spigot of publicly available data about you. That alarms some people.
is a loaded word, but that’s what is happening when we go online, isn’t it? And
on such a massive scale that Orwellian is almost an understatement.
Klein notes that Google only needs 22
points of data to figure out who you are wherever you log on. (Whether you hit the logo to go back to the home page or hit the
home button is one such data point.)
And then there’s mobile’where you go, what you do on your phone’it’s all being collected.
People may have signed on, but they are not on board.
seen a bigger backlash?
case, it is a curious thing and I’m not the only one who believes the situation is unsustainable.
Coming Next: Data Custodianship, Privacy By Design and a Huge Opportunity for Consumer Researchers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @mdrezz.