A few insights on the development of this fascinating field, and our take on its various pillars.
The fight for Privacy: Transparency and Control vs. Ownership and Value
We are at a crossroads:
- Accepting that personal data have objective monetary value implies an alignment with stealth data collection practices: Who defines such value but data brokers in the current advertising technology (“AdTech”) ecosystem?
- Speaking of personal data ownership results in loss of control: Even its more plausible association to intellectual property (rather than physical property) implies a certain degree of “transferability”, a freedom to sell or license copies of it, a potential trade in personal dignity that may become a last resort for many.
In other words, it seems like the more we stick to the perception that we “own our data” and that “we should claim our fair share of the money others make with it”, the less likely we are to ever achieve transparency (with regards to how such data will be used) and control (in terms of personal agency), for we will be playing by today’s rules and so granting a lifeline to everything that brought us here.
Nothing new for many there: Detaching the value of the fingerprint from that of the handshake results in the former being contracted away (surely through formulas of adhesion and opacity rather than true negotiation or balance).
It is undeniable that our data have immense value. But it should probably be us, people, who remain in control of the manner in which such value is obtained or translated into a comparative benchmark of our own making, be it dollars or peanuts.
Today’s organizations are personal data junkies. Marketing and big data teams will find an easy way to justify its acquisition by any possible means. If “consent” is their juice, consent they will squeeze out of every single living creature. Give businesses a way to buy it by the pound, and you will remove the little incentive they may have had to escape a prison of waste and inefficiency.
Control and transparency sit at the opposite end of “clickwrap” contracts and never-ending policies. They require true decision power on the basis of simple trade-offs, and regulatory safeguards will not get us any closer to it. Despite the importance of recognizing privacy as a basic human right and providing legal protection for it, it is the job of free markets to take the “business-to-consumer” relationship to the next level.
We may soon enter an era of true customer centricity in which some companies will manage to cast aside repetitive, futile “single customer view” endeavors in favor of “single brand view” capabilities. They will do so by replacing data stitching, consent management, and ad targeting with the “data listening” tools and features that allow their customers to expose a given amount of data points, as well as present needs or circumstances, in exchange for better services, creative bundles, or truly useful anticipation.
Escaping the current waste in omnichannel creepiness, short-term measurability, ad fraud, or addictive engagement will more than pay for the effort.PrivacyCloud