Voice of the Industry

Emma Lindley, Innovate Identity: "The Price for Freedom: How much do we really pay?"

Tuesday 30 September 2014 13:00 CET | Editor: Melisande Mual | Voice of the industry

People don`t seem to understand that privacy and autonomy are very much related and privacy is a necessity for developing one`s individual character

This month we renewed our household car insurance. Like all good frugal families we took our existing quote and ran some comparisons; in this instance we used Google Car Insurance Comparison. We managed to reduce our quote by GBP 400. To get these new and competitive quotes we had to give Google a lot of personal information, and as my husband put it “that might come around and bite us at some point” – so the saving was GBP 400, but what was the price we really pay for giving all that personal data away?

Most people know that their web searches, Facebook feeds, and other online activities are now being leveraged to make money, with or without their knowledge.

This seems to divide the people I speak to into two camps, with a substantial segment finding the tracking creepy and invasive. However, there is a demographic that collectively shrugs at the idea that our personal information being given away freely in exchange for apps, some kind of service we want to access or an attractive offer.

For many of us who run ecommerce and payments businesses there is a difficult conundrum – we want to make money, get the most customers through our online on-boarding processes and through to the product or service. We also want to know everything about those customers so that we can market to them more effectively.

Different companies are taking different strategies in this field, with some being completely transparent and clear about the way they use your data, like Apple’s Tim Cook who recently made a statement from the company about their respect for users privacy http://www.businessinsider.com/tim-cook-published-a-letter-on-apple-privacy-policies-2014-9?utm_source=linkedinticker&utm_medium=referral.

On the other hand, there is the recent Facebook ‘mood experiment’ where Facebook, without users consent or knowledge, manipulated users ‘news feeds’ with emotive pictures and then assessed the updates users posted to see if the pictures had affected their mood. This case is one to watch as it is currently under review in the US in relation to its legality http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/09/facebooks-mood-manipulation-experiment-might-be-illegal/380717/

But how much is an identity worth? And what are the approaches being taken to this conundrum?

Some users are taking the whole value of their identity into their own hands. In 2014, Dutch student Shawn Buckles auctioned all his personal data to the highest bidder and earned a grand total of EUR 350 (GBP 288). When asked why he had done it he told the press he would rather decide for himself who gets access to his data and for what reasons. He said People dont seem to understand that privacy and autonomy are very much related and privacy is a necessity for developing ones individual character and ethics. Despite this, people are giving their data away for free by using services like Facebook and Google, and governments are misusing this data. We are silently consenting to a surveillance state by making all this data available for free, he added.

What we know from the Facebook experiment is that it has seriously alienated and angered users. Many users have left the social networking website for other alternatives such as “Ello” which claims to respect users privacy, and importantly, not use personal data for advertising.

So, despite there being two camps in relation to privacy, it is clear that in the camp where privacy is important, these individuals are only likely to become more entrenched in their distrust of these organisations. Their view on the value of their personal data will increase, and the situations they will share it will likely become rare, and only for necessity.

There is a wave of start-ups hoping to exploit this by giving customers the informed choice and consent to share all their web browsing and banking data. One West Coast start-up is now offering companies a window into the private digital lives of people who have agreed to let much of what they do on a smartphone, tablet, or computer be tracked for a USD 100 a month. So the consumer benefits directly in their wallet when they share their data.

Whatever the solution, clear consent as to the use of customer’s data is a growing trend and is a critical part of continued customer loyalty and engagement.

With the new EU Privacy Directive and stricter controls around consent and retention of consumer data it means change is coming, at least to Europe, whether we like it or not.

The days of collecting and sharing consumer data without informed consent are numbered.

About Emma Lindley

Emma Lindley is a digital innovation expert, is focused on what online life will look like in the future and is passionate about the enabling technologies - digital identity, mobile, IoT, payments, security and anti fraud. She works with merchants, payment companies, regulators and governments globally helping them build innovative solutions for digital engagement.

About the company

Innovate Identity is an independent consultancy providing advisory services focused on digital trust, data and technology innovation within the global online community. Our areas of expertise include Global Identity Proofing, “Midata”, Identity Verification, Age Verification, Know Your Customer, Anti Money Laundering, Data Privacy and Anti Fraud technologies. We improve our client’s global reach, competitive advantage, return on investment and enable sustainable business transformation through identity innovation.

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Keywords: Emma Lindley, Innovate Identity, online fraud, online security, data protection, privacy
Countries: World

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