When we talk about privacy and personal data, we often hear the argument that people don’t care. But there is increasing evidence that this is not always the case. People are lazy, and they just accept whatever terms they are offered when using services like social media, mobile apps and websites and don’t like dealing with issues that are too complex to handle. However, if they are given easy options to protect their data, they are willing to do it.
Let’s take a look at some of the latest information:
1. A recent study has shown that a staggering number of 96% of people don’t allow app tracking, especially after Apple introduced such an option in the iOS 14.5 release. Some people also joke that the remaining 4% have accidentally pressed the wrong button.
2. A most recent poll also claims that 64% of US adults are concerned about the privacy of health data accessed by third-party apps. According to that study, older generations are more worried about the privacy of their health data than younger generations.
3. Luxury brands see pressure and urgency to adopt zero-party data models, i.e. data that customers want to share with them.
These examples illustrate how consumers are interested in their data and privacy. Likewise, companies (especially those that want to respect their customers, such as luxury brands) feel the need to change their data and business models, giving more control to consumers.
Why do some parties still claim that people are not interested in their personal data? There are probably have several reasons for this:
1. It is in the interest of some companies to keep the status quo with the existing data models if they can make money with them.
2. Other parties haven’t recognized the change in consumer sentiment.
3. It is also about the user experience and what options are available. If the only option is to accept all terms and conditions or not use a service, many people just click yes. But since Apple has enabled tracking control, and people can keep their data and share it by imposing their conditions or limitations, it is a new ball game. People now have feasible options on what they want to do with their data.
Maybe we can compare this to some other ongoing trends. Are people willing to recycle their waste? Yes, if there are reasonable ways to do so, i.e. where local waste collection supports recycling. Are people willing to change to electric vehicles? Yes, they are, if the prices are reasonable and there are enough charging stations available. But we still see reports claiming that people are not willing to recycle waste or buy EVs.
So, the question is how to offer people options and tools to manage their data and utilize it personally. This discussion about the utility of personal data is not only about third parties not using or leaking your data, but also that data has value and how you can extract that value.
There will be more and more services that offer opportunities for new utilities around personal data. It is just a question of timing, and we are seeing that it is happening already, so it is not just a future scenario. We know that it is not only new startups that help to protect and utilize personal data; it has also become a brand and customer relationship matter to many companies. We have witnessed how Apple has advertised various themes concerning privacy and personal data and enabled new things like disabling app tracking. We can also observe how luxury brands now think privacy matters, and respecting customers’ data is becoming an important part of their brand.
When new things emerge, it is typical for some parties not to recognize the change or even deny it. But it is also very typical that if you empower people with new tools they see as valuable, sooner or later, they will be willing to utilize them. And when people have the opportunity to use their new liberties, most people will.
We are now at that momentum point with the personal data. Soon enough, we will see massive changes in the personal data business. Innovative companies empower people to manage and utilize their data, and people will take up the opportunity.