All of this personal data flying around
has serious implications for privacy.
Legislation has not kept up with the pace of technological change, and legal protections that are in place can often seem insufficient, considering the scale of data-harvesting carried out by industry and, indeed, governments today. It seems apparent that a tipping point has been reached though and driven by consumer demand, a more robust approach is being demanded.
Businesses that do not play their part here will simply not be trusted by people with their data that is definitely apparent. Trends among tech industry leaders, such as Google and Facebook, are towards giving us greater visibility and control over what is done with our data and this has been driven by increased consumer awareness. Surveys have revealed that consumer loyalty tends to impact largely if consumers feel that their personal data is being compromised by businesses where they are putting their money and trust. To many, it's becoming increasingly clear that this is an area where consumer behavior can influence corporate policy in a positive way. By patronizing businesses that demonstrate commitment to principles of privacy and data protection, while snubbing those that continue to mislead us about what they collect, or act outside of the permissions we have given them, the bar will, hopefully, be raised for everyone. This will certainly be to everyone s benefit, too. Every field, from healthcare and finance to entertainment and retail, is being revolutionized, thanks to the Big Data available today. However, there are still barriers in the way, manifested in the form of public distrust, or uncertainty, over what would really happen to personal information when consumers hand it over. Today, people are happy to share information about their shopping habits with Walmart or Amazon, because they know that this would mean getting special offers or a more personalized shopping experience.
Tomorrow, people might be happy to share information about their genetic structure and it would help in the development of personalized medicine and new cures for diseases. But they won't do it if they are worried about where else the information might end up. Consumers are helping to bring about this change by getting serious about understanding what happens to their data, who they share it with and what it is used for.
Emerging technologies will fuel the next revolution in this space, offering freedom, fairness and a new perspective laced with anonymity.
Show me the Card
Here is a blockchain startup, ShoCard, that has created a digital identity card for users similar to a driver’s license. This card stores a user’s identity onto a blockchain, which makes it easy for that person to prove his or her identity, whenever needed. The idea is to remove cumbersome bank and credit card identification processes with more secure and practical solutions. When users create their ShoCard, they need to first scan their identity documents and sign it. The mobile app then generates a private and public key to seal that record. Optimized for mobile, a user’s identity is encrypted, hashed and then communicated to the blockchain, where it can be pulled up, whenever needed. The best part about this technological achievement is that ShoCard hides all these complexities for the user and ensures safe online purchases as well.
Living in Transparent Homes
Giving your customers a thorough insight of what data of theirs you are using, what you are doing with it, and why, is the key to achieving transparency and growing trust. Google's Nest smart home devices (smart thermostats, smoke alarms, camera and similar devices) promise users that their data won’t be used for anything other than the reasons stated when they sign up.
This builds trust, which means that more people are likely to agree to contribute their own data, and services become more useful for everyone.
Listen to the Echo
An Amazon Echo or Echo Dot user can have the device respond to all requests and commands, by simply uttering the word 'Alexa'. Since the device is always listening and recording voices, law enforcement officials are hoping that with all the data it collects, Alexa can be useful in curbing crime. From a data privacy angle, users will know when the device is streaming audio and storing the data in the Cloud. If you don’t want the device to listen at all, you can push the microphone button on top of the Echo or Echo Dot. To ensure user privacy, the Amazon spokesperson claims unequivocally that it respects customer privacy and will not willingly turn over personal information, unless legally compelled to do so. The bottom line is that unless the word 'Alexa' comes up in conversation first, the device most likely is not recording anything sensitive.
Where's Your Mate
Ad firms are increasingly harvesting consumers’ personal data from web histories, which is alarming for most users. Consumer security and privacy firm, ZenMate is a Berlin-based startup that offers users secure, encrypted access to any website from anywhere, without restriction, via a Virtual Private Network (VPN)-style connection. Their VPN service secures over 40 million registered users and lets them change their virtual location to watch movies and shows. The VPN uses top-level encryption to keep user passwords and banking information secure. Through this unique VPN, ZenMate has been able to counter online privacy incursions and help restore consumer trust.