Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Ovum: Big data collection colliding with privacy concerns

Changing consumer attitudes about online collection of personal data may force new business models, analyst says

Article comments

A recent push in the IT industry to collect and monetise big data is headed for a clash with privacy concerns from Internet users and potential regulation from some governments, according to tech analyst firm Ovum.

Internet advertising networks and other companies that depend on the collection of personal data online should prepare for a "rebalancing" of the relationship between themselves and Web users, with Web users having more control of their data, said Mark Little, principal analyst at the UK tech and business analysis firm.

Web users are becoming more aware of privacy tools and appear ready to use them, Little said. "More and more consumers are deciding to effectively become invisible in data terms on the Internet," he added. "It will shake the Internet economy as more and more users decide they don't want to be tracked."

Ovum, in a recent survey of about 11,000 people across 11 countries, found that 68 percent said they would use a do-not-track feature if it was easily available on a search engine. Just 14 percent of respondents said they believe Internet companies are honest about their use of personal data.

"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," Little said in a written statement regarding the Ovum findings.

Ovum's survey results point to trouble for online business models that rely on the collection of personal data, including targeted or behavioural advertising, Little said in an interview. In addition to consumer concerns about online privacy, governments in Europe and North America are looking at new ways to protect consumer data through regulation, he noted.

"You are getting this squeeze between a hardening consumer attitude and tighter regulation," Little said.

Privacy advocates say the recent focus in the tech industry on using big data raises concerns.

"Big data is both a boon and a curse for users," Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said in an email. "Tens of thousands of data sources on individuals can be compiled in milliseconds."

The profiles allow marketers, politicians and businesses to predict consumers' futures, he said, "whether we will be a big and low-wage lifetime earner, how we may respond to medical concerns and whom we can be persuaded to vote for."

In the long term, companies that collect personal data online may have to find new methods than the current approach of stealthily placing a cookie on a Web user's browser, a practice Little calls "data fracking."

A growing number of consumers seem to think the current model of data collection, with free Web content or services in exchange for their personal data, is out of balance, he said. Consumers are "feeling exploited," he said. "There's that feeling of, 'what am I getting out of this?'"

Data collection companies may need to establish stronger relationships with their customers or offer more incentives for customers to give up personal information, Little said. In the UK, grocery store chain Tesco is allowing its customers to see their personal data collected by the company, he noted.

Little also sees potential for a new business model in which consumers create personal data vaults that they control, giving consumers a choice about which companies they share their personal information with. A company called Personal is one company that has begun offering personal data vaults, he said.

A move toward more consumer control of personal data won't be all bad for Internet companies, however, Little said. Personal data vaults will contain more accurate and forward-looking information than the current data collection methods can gather, he said.

The change in relationship between consumer and data collectors will change slowly, and Internet businesses shouldn't change their data collection practices immediately, Little said.

Internet companies should "keep on riding the margins of regulation and consumer acceptance in order to maximise your data set, because that is just good business," he said. "But prepare for changes where consumers start to want more of a relationship with their own data and the people who are collecting it."



Share:

More from Techworld

More relevant IT news

Comments



Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *