Data and Privacy: Can’t We All Get Along?
Are consumer attitudes and behavior in conflict when it comes to privacy, data collection and advertising?
Do consumers say one thing — but regularly do something else? If so, what does this say about privacy practices in our field — and our vigilant need to be transparent, giving the consumer some control over how data is collected and what for?
These questions presented themselves this week in several news stories. First, Apple CEO Tim Cook took a swipe at data collection, where he made general comments bemoaning the practices of other unnamed Silicon Valley tech companies. Reports on his speech are detailed here and here — and a fascinating retort to Cook is published in Business Insider.
Second, The New York Times connected Cook’s comments to new research from the Annenberg School of Communications, which appears to categorize consumer distaste for data collection by advertisers, and eschewing the value of “so-called” free email, social media, games and other services and entertainment they get in exchange for such data collection. Reportedly, consumers are “resigned” to the fact that data is collected about them – but bemoan this has to happen in order to get something for nothing. Many feel they’ve lost all control about data collection and usage about themselves in this exchange.
On the other side, Business Insider writer Jay Yarow points out that more than 1 billion people worldwide have joined Facebook and opened Google accounts, two examples of businesses that use data to improve the customer experience – and two among hundreds that enable more relevant advertising content through data collection. [Disclaimer: My full-time gig is with the Digital Advertising Alliance, a self-regulatory program that seeks to balance consumer privacy online with advertising innovation.] Apple, the author warns, had better start paying attention to careful use of consumer data if it wants to maintain a competitive edge.