Cassandra, the greek goddess of prophecy, was cursed by Apollo. She was able to see the future, but the curse caused no one to believe her. I have been musing quite a bit about privacy these days, surrounded by talk of hacking, data breaches, troll farms, dark web and phishing. In fact, my debit card was recently compromised, causing a minor inconvenience.
When talking about it with people my age (oh, let’s say 45 and over), there is a marked difference in perceptions regarding privacy, data security, and personal information. Is my personal data a commodity to be traded? I have difficulty thinking about personal information in that manner. There seems to be a definite demarcation between Gen Xers (and cusp baby-boomers like me) and today’s Gen Z post-millenial tech users.
“In the United States, we suffer from the notion that privacy is about protecting your life from government, whereas most attempts to know and control how we behave are conducted by corporations, religions and educational institutions.” – Toby Miller http://magazine.ucr.edu/85
Lawrence Lessig, a noted internet privacy expert and professor at Harvard Law School, believes that business (and we marketers) has outpaced governments ability to regulate, and thus protect us as consumers.
That leads to philosophical questions about what we do as big data gurus, and location-based marketers, and geo-fencing experts. Just because we can, does that mean we should? Is privacy a commodity to be sold and bartered? Is it an inalienable right, due to us as Americans, and protected, though not explicitly, by the 4th and 5th Amendments?
Of course, the constitution details our protections from government into our lives, not business.
Ultimately, it seems as if the generational pendulum is swinging the marketers way. Accenture says that as long as the brands deliver value, they can have the persoanl info.
Personally, I think companies have not been succeeding at sharing with consumers how much data is being collected, how it is gathered, who gets to see it, and what it is being used for and sold to. The interminably lengthy EULA agreements don’t cut it for transparency and customer friendliness. Declarations should be easily understandable and discover-able. As consumers, shouldn’t we demand a statement like this:
You can use the Privacy Checkup to review and adjust your settings to make sure you’re sharing with who you want. To be sure you continue sharing with who you want, we recommend regularly checking the audience for your profile information and posts. Your privacy shortcuts also give you quick access to your privacy settings. Facebook owns wholly or in part the following companies and may access any information you have provided included but not limited to photos, contact information, and location information: Oculus VR, WhatsApp, Spool, Face.com, Lightbox.com, Instagram, Tagtile, Gowalla, Strobe, Friend.ly, Swaylo, Rel8tion, drop.io, Hot Potato, Friendster, ConnectU, and Parakey.
I know I do.