Privacy: From People to Data
Author: Anita Beveridge, Chloe Cook, Andy Stubbings
Andy Stubbings is a senior consultant who works in the trends and futures team. Chole Cook is an analyst, who works in the Trends and Futures team.
Privacy as it is known nowadays is a relatively modern
concept that was ‘invented’ around 400 years ago. Every time privacy has
developed another layer of meaning, it has been in response to the introduction
of a new technology into people’s lives–from the chimney, to the camera and
printing press, to the Internet. The future of privacy will be characterized by
the analysis of patterns of consumers’ behavioral data, with consumers seeking
to protect themselves from the assumptions companies have made about their
personal data patterns.
Privacy happen because consumers are surprised when their
personal data is used unexpectedly; companies need a ‘no-surprises’ approach to
privacy if they want to avoid privacy pitfalls. In order to ensure there are no
surprises around privacy we need to move the debate away from privacy as a
permanent and immovable ‘right’, and recognize it for what it is in the digital
age: a mediating factor in a constantly shifting and iterative exchange between
people and organizations. Until companies stop viewing personal data–or ‘bits
of people’–as a commodity to be farmed, and rather realize its role in an
exchange which should be beneficial to both parties, they will fail to handle
it with the care and respect consumers expect.
As long as this ‘one-sided handshake’ continues,
companies and organizations that manage personal data not only risk a collapse
in consumer trust, they also stand to miss out on huge potential sources of
value to their business and society as a whole, from new unexpected uses of
personal data co-created by their customers.
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