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Data black hole looms: two-thirds would block personal data tracking

Technology & Data

Data black hole looms: two-thirds would block personal data tracking


Two-thirds of consumers would say no to internet tracking if a ‘do not track’ feature was easily available, suggesting that a data ‘black hole’ could soon open up under the digital marketing industry.

The finding, from Ovum’s global ‘Consumer Insights Survey’, led the technology analyst to predict turbulence for the internet economy, as consumers around the world start to tire of their personal data being collected across the internet.

Consumers will increasingly seek out tools that allow them to remain invisible and impossible to target online, Ovum says. This hardening of consumer attitudes, coupled with tightening regulation, could diminish personal data supply lines and have a considerable impact on targeted advertising, CRM, big data analytics, and other digital industries.

“Unfortunately, in the gold rush that is big data, taking the supply of ‘little data’ – personal data – for granted seems to be an accident waiting to happen,” principal analyst at Ovum, Mark Little, says. “However, consumers are being empowered with new tools and services to monitor, control, and secure their personal data as never before, and it seems they increasingly have the motivation to use them.”

Recent data privacy scandals such as WhatsApp’s use of address books, Instagram’s updated terms of service which staked rights on users’ pictures, and the continuing controversy over privacy and data use policies on Facebook and Google websites have fuelled consumers’ concerns over the protection of their personal data.

Ovum’s survey found that only 14% of respondents believe that internet companies are honest about their use of consumers’ personal data, suggesting it will be a challenge for online companies to gain trust.

Internet companies should introduce new privacy tools and messaging campaigns designed to convince consumers that they can be trusted, and improve transparency of data collection, Ovum says.

“Internet companies need a new set of messages to change consumers’ attitudes,” Little adds. “These messages must be based on positive direct relationships, engagement with consumers, and the provision of genuine and trustworthy privacy controls.

“Most importantly, data controllers need a better feel for the approaching disruption to their supply lines, and must invest in tools that help them understand the profile of today’s negatively-minded users – tomorrow’s invisible consumers.”

68% of respondents across 11 countries would select a ‘do-not-track’ feature if it was easily available. The study covered communication trends, social networking, internet applications, pay-TV subscriptions and online media with a panel of over 11,000 from Europe, Asia, North America, and South and Central America.



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