Skip to main content

Would You Pay For Privacy?

The protection of personal information is an important aspect of anybody's life.  Most people have a feeling of their 'personal space' when they're in a crowed public place such as the metro or bar and like to create an invisible barrier between themselves and others.

This personal space is often extended to the non-physical aspects of our life too, such as our contact information.  Many telephone directories give the option to be 'ex-directory', with screening options also available.  Electoral role information can also be masked, removing the opportunity for sales and marketing spam being aimed at individuals.

Most of these claims for additional privacy are not uncommon and are accepted as a standard way of protecting the personal attributes of an individual.

Today, most personal information for an individual, can be gained on line from doing some basic searches.  Certainly things like name, address and telephone number will be pretty widely available after a few minutes of search engine interrogation.  Dependent on how much of an on-line presence an individual has, additional details such as education history, current employer, email address, date of birth and even partner/spouse details could also be found, mainly due to the sharing nature of social networking.

In the last two years there have been numerous privacy rows surrounding the likes of Google and Facebook as they continually change the small print surrounding what they can (and will do) with your personal information.  Is it a right that by default personal information will be kept private, or at least there are options for you to keep it private?

If you're signing up for any new service, you generally have the opportunity to view the privacy agreement and the general terms and conditions of use.  These agreements will generally describe in pretty granular detail what will happen to any personal data.

Should privacy be 'turned on' by default and 'turned off' by selection and is the right to protect your own personal information an implicit right?   Perhaps focusing on social networking is unfair, as in it's nature, social networking is about information sharing.  The second point when discussing privacy regarding social networking, is that in general, social networking sites are free, or at least offer a freemium model for example like LinkedIn.  If the levels of privacy configuration are not in agreement with your own model, you can simply stop using the service right?

It's interesting to see if that offering a paid for service alters the perception towards privacy and risk?  If for example a service implicitly guarantees privacy of information but has a cost associated with it, would that alter the users demand for greater privacy?  Is there a cost associated with protecting your information?

A slightly unrelated example is to look at the anti-virus market.  It's worth several  billion dollars annually, with specific products for laptops, servers, smart phones and so on.  In this context, people are willing to pay substantial amounts of cash to protect their objects and implicitly their information.

It will be interesting to see if in the coming years as information proliferation and 'big data' become omnipresent and the digitial nature culture brings us permanently connected to the internet, whether specific privacy protection is a viable requirement for many people and if they're prepared to pay a price for it.

(Simon Moffatt)

Popular posts from this blog

Top 5 Security Predictions for 2016

It's that time of year again, when the retrospective and predictive blogs come out of the closet, just before the Christmas festivities begin.  This time last year, the 2015 predictions were an interesting selection of both consumer and enterprise challenges, with a focus on:

Customer Identity ManagementThe start of IoT security awarenessReduced Passwords on MobileConsumer PrivacyCloud Single Sign On
In retrospect, a pretty accurate and ongoing list.  Consumer related identity (cIAM) is hot on most organisation's lips, and whilst the password hasn't died (and probably never will) there are more people using things like swipe login and finger print authentication than ever before.

But what will 2016 bring?

Mobile Payments to be Default for Consumers

2015 has seen the rise in things like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay hitting the consumer high street with venom.  Many retail outlets now provide the ability to "tap and pay" using a mobile device, with many banks also offer…

Customer Data: Convenience versus Security

Organisations in both the public and private sector are initiating programmes of work to convert previously physical or offline services, into more digital, on line and automated offerings.  This could include things like automated car tax purchase, through to insurance policy management and electricity meter reading submission and reporting.

Digitization versus Security

This move towards a more on line user experience, brings together several differing forces.  Firstly the driver for end user convenience and service improvement, against the requirements of data security and privacy.  Which should win?  There clearly needs to be a balance of security against service improvement.  Excessive and prohibitive security controls would result in a complex and often poor user experience, ultimately resulting in fewer users.  On the other hand, poorly defined security architectures, lead to data loss, with the impact for personal exposure and brand damage.

Online-ification: The Role of Identity

The Wikipedia entry for Digital Transformation, "refers to the changes associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society".  That is a pretty broad statement.

An increased digital presence however, is being felt across all lines of both public and private sector initiatives, reaching everything from being able to pay your car tax on line, through to being able to order a taxi based on your current location.  This increased focus on the 'online-ification' of services and content, drives a need for a loosely coupled and strong view of an individual or thing based digital identity.