“Day after day, click after click, buy after buy, swipe after swipe, thumbs up or thumbs down, our virtual actions leave our digital footprint that will be there throughout our lives (and even after that),” writes Manish Bahl. “Once data is produced, it rarely fades away — like a permanent marker that you can’t get off the wall, no matter how much bleach you use.” Excerpts:
“Our personal data is constantly collected, monetized, and traded in this new economy. The digitization of our lives has made an abundance of personal data publicly available, which could be easily exploited.
In fact, our latest research of 2,404 consumers across Asia-Pacific reveals that 55% of consumers we surveyed strongly feel that their data is being sold to third parties (advertisers, insurance companies, telecom operators, retail stores, among others).
It is no wonder that consumers (58%) in the region have a growing concern over their lack of control in how their data is mined. The data footprint that we leave today is magnifying, exponentially, in a connected world where everything from wearables to home appliances, smartphones, and cars can now be synced.
The deepening issue is the growing lack of trust between people and the companies that use personal data in a way consumers were not expecting. It’s not a surprise that no industry we studied is perceived as highly trustworthy by consumers when it comes to the use of their personal information. On average, only 43% of consumers have a great level of trust in institutions across industries. In fact, 53% do not always believe that companies are doing what they say they will to protect client data privacy.
The notion of “privacy” will undergo a radical change over the next 10 years. It is likely that what is seen as the unethical sale of data today will be acceptable tomorrow. When the information highway opened a few years ago, we saw a wave of fear concerning data privacy, control, intrusion, and hacking. In spite of all the concerns about companies tracking our information online, few people swore off the Internet entirely. Instead, smartphones and social media have become permanent fixtures in many of our lives. Consumers are still very likely to disclose personal information online, download apps, upload images, and follow free sites. Let’s accept it—we tend to focus more on the benefits we’ll get out of the activity online, than the risk of engaging in it.
As consumers become more educated about how a company is using their data, they might be willing to assume more risk in exchange for some form of value (a personalized experience, discounts, coupons, and so on). This kind of trade-off, called the give-to-get ratio, will be the new norm of privacy in the future.”
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The article was also published by The New Paper, Singapore.