The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held last week in Las Vegas, wasn't all glitz and glam over the latest and greatest gadgets. Amidst all the hype over the next wearables, 4K-everything, and self-driving cars of the future, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez delivered a speech on her—and, we can fairly assume, the FTC's—serious concerns surrounding the future of big data and the Internet of Things.
"Connected devices that provide increased convenience and improve health services are also collecting, transmitting, storing, and often sharing vast amounts of consumer data," she said, "some of it highly personal, thereby creating a number of privacy risks."
In Ramirez' speech, she stressed the importance of three things:
- "Adopting security by design."
- "Engaging in data minimization."
- "Increasing transparency and providing consumers with notice and choice for unexpected data uses."
While it remains to be seen exactly how—and even if—the FTC will act towards regulating IoT data collection, the marketing world is falling over itself getting ready to embrace the Internet of Things. The hype couldn't be at more of a fever pitch right now, and the technology finally seems to be falling into place to meet the demand—demand coming both from marketers and consumers.
But Ramirez is right: Marketers can't let the possibilities of the IoT overrule a commitment to the user having a good, safe experience. One that will make them want to share data with marketers.
As Chet Dalzell put it well, the other week, in his Marketing Sustainably blog post: "... privacy is a fluid, dynamic state of mind. Our marketing lives are an ever-constant bartering of data—I give you this information about me, you will give me that product, service or convenience—and the only answer to 'real' privacy is to never engage in a convenience or transaction."
So in the future, when our fridges can automatically put milk on our shopping list when it gets low, hopefully we won't see trading our shopping habits for convenience as a privacy invasion, but rather as a convenience worth bartering some data for.