Consumers Value Privacy. But How Much?

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KarlHakkarainen
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Mitch - related to your question about what people are willling to give up, I wish the survey had asked what people were doing about their privacy. Pew Research showed that 58% of online users had restricted view of some material. This is a healthy percentage, but that leaves a lot of people with default settings in place. 

In a curious twist, Pew reported that the most highly educated users had the most difficulty with the privacy settings. It may be that this group was more worried about the stakes associated with privacy management and was less able to get it right. 

While I'm sympathetic to the privacy concerns, there is a certain minimum amount of awareness and effort that is the consumer's responsibility. You can't be requesting additional police patrols in your neighrborhood and then leave your car unlocked wiith keys and cash on the dashboard. 

It also would have been good if Consumers Union had published the full report of their survey on their web site.

Mitch Wagner
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Karl - Did the Pew report say how people had restricted the view of some material?

KarlHakkarainen
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Pew said that a majority of Facebook users restricted views by limiting access to their friends only. They didn't ask about subscriptions or public posts. 

Mitch Wagner
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Karl - Pew said that a majority of Facebook users restricted views by limiting access to their friends only. 

That jibes with my own anecdotal observations. 

AliceAMM
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There's a privacy concern. No surprise. When asked a direct question, of course the overwhelming response will be "yes, I'm concerned about it." But, as you said, actions don't seem to support the voice of concern.

The collective we seems to want a more personalized web experience. Who wants meat ads, for example, down the right rail on Facebook when "everyone" knows we're a vegetarian. "We" would much rather see a tofu ad than a hamburger ad. There's a price for that kind of specialization. Ask if "we" want that specialization and it wouldn't surprise me to see an overwhelming yes. "We" want it, but "we" may not be ready to pay the price for it.

Ryck
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Karl, I agree with you.  I think that many consumers are talking out of both sides of their mouth.  Although this survey indicated that privacy seems to be a big concern for many, it's their actions, as you identified correctly, that speak volumes about this issue.  As an example, in our office we were entertaining a partnership with another firm, so we did as many do, we did an Internet search of our prime contact.  Within 60 seconds, we had her work background for the past 10-15 years from LinkedIn, and from a blog we learned about her friends, her family, favorite hangouts where she currently lives, as well as learning she is a single mother to a young boy, and even found pictures of her sitting pool-side in her bikini, sipping on a cold one.  All of this was found on the first search and within a minute.  So, for those that are bellyaching about privacy, they should ensure that they are not exposing themselves and their lives elsewhere.

Mitch Wagner
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Ryck - even found pictures of her sitting pool-side in her bikini, sipping on a cold one. 

I expect this woman might have been uncomfortable knowing that business associates saw her dressed like that. 

And I assume "sipping a cold one" refers to beer? Nothing wrong with that -- but there have been stories about teachers fired from their jobs for posting photos of them with wine or hard drinks in their hands. Note that these were not photos of the teachers carousing or behaving in a drunken fashion; they were just at dinner or sitting or standing in a bar with friends, having a drink. 




Ryck
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Mitch, the point is how much was so easily discovered with a simple Internet search.  In our office, we were surprised at how much was discovered--so quickly and so effortlessly.

kicheko
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Recently when Google rebranded its android market to Google Play, is when i got an opportunity to look closer at the exact information an app collects from my device when i download it. I have been downloading android apps for a long time, but on that dau i found myself unable to download an app. For the reason that it became so clear to me how much privacy i'm ceding for an app. including tracking of incoming and outgoing phonecalls, and identities of the other party. Its scary. Suddenly Do-not-track sounds like a long overdue legislation. Either that or marketers truly regulate themselves.

sohaibmasood
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Thanks for sharing Kicheko. I didn't know the extent to which personal data gets transfered when we download an app! When a person clicks 'download app' that is technically our consent to the agreement. True that marketers should communicate this in a much better way but its also the user's fault that we dont bother to make ourselves aware.

smkinoshita
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Ryck:  ...even found pictures of her sitting pool-side in her bikini, sipping on a cold one. 

Mitch:  I expect this woman might have been uncomfortable knowing that business associates saw her dressed like that.


And it gets worse when one considers that regardless of whether or not she posted the picture or was even aware of its existance,  someone simply had to post it and tag her.  Even if we do a good job at protecting our own streams it doesn't mean the other people in our network will.

The problem right now is that essentially this is like giving away free cars to everyone regardless if they know how to drive, and then reacting in shock at the accidents that are occuring.  Perhaps we should look at the history of the regulation of the automobile to get ideas on how to address privacy.


Ryck
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AT WHAT PRICE?
Ryck   4/9/2012 1:16:04 PM
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Mitch, rather than asking consumers what they are wiling to pay to relinquish some of their personal data, perhaps firms, who understand the value of this information, need to start paying people to lower their privacy wall.  Phone survey interviewers always have a line that by answering their questions, companies will be able to provide me with better products.  But, do they mean products for me or for Joe/Jan Q. Public?  The value proposition for respondents is too vague and doesn't really motivate me.  If you want my information, then you have to make it wothwhile to me--specifically me.  For this reason, maybe the companies should start shelling out dollars to collect good information.  I'm not sure exactly this would work, but if it's valuable enough for the companies, I am sure they can figure out a way.

Mitch Wagner
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Re: AT WHAT PRICE?
Mitch Wagner   4/9/2012 4:13:51 PM
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Ryck, I think shelling out dollars would poison the usefulness of information. The amounts are relatively small, and therefore you attract consumers with little to spend. And the people willing to answer would be motivated to tell the brand what it wants to hear, rather than the truth. 

It would make more sense to offer incentives that align with the business -- discounts, access to early product information, offers, and so on. This is already something marketers know how to do. 

Ryck
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Re: AT WHAT PRICE?
Ryck   4/9/2012 4:58:24 PM
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Mitch, I think the point is that this information is valuable to corporations, but in many cases, they want to obtain it without any compensation to the person who owns this information.  As for offering discounts or other incentivess--it's a reward for the information just like cash would be, so it could alter the information provided to a firm just as easily.

Barbara Krafte
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Re: PRIVACY vs. privacy
Barbara Krafte   4/10/2012 10:19:32 AM
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Mitch - Meaningful privacy policy needs to go beyond shallow polling and dig into what people really mean when they talk about privacy. What, precisely, are people looking to protect? And how far are they willing to go to protect it?

The answer to both for most people is "I don't really know." And that's precisely the problem. "PRIVACY" is a BIG concept - too big. Most initiatives tackling the issue assume the same level of knowledge and understanding of "privacy" for everyone who's ever gone online or shopped in a store using a loyalty card. To the contrary, most people have little-to-no personal understanding of the issue or the consequences. Therefore, polling - whether it's shallow or drills down further offers no real value. 

Instead, assume zero understanding of the concept "Privacy" and approach it from the perspective of peoples' lives. Ask simple close-end questions that anyone can relate to and you'll get far better insights. For example, poll to see if people want their likes, birthday information, etc. used by others to sell them something, or; would you allow access to your friends, connections, etc. for the same purpose, and; do you mind having a company use information about your purchases to offer you other items to buy?

Stop polling about concepts and big ideas only a small percentage of people can wrap their head around and start asking people about their lives. Only at that point will the Privacy issue become far less difficult to tackle.

 

Mitch Wagner
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Re: PRIVACY vs. privacy
Mitch Wagner   4/10/2012 10:33:08 AM
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Barbara Krafte - Ask simple close-end questions that anyone can relate to and you'll get far better insights. For example, poll to see if people want their likes, birthday information, etc. used by others to sell them something, or; would you allow access to your friends, connections, etc. for the same purpose, and; do you mind having a company use information about your purchases to offer you other items to buy?

Good ideas! 

One of the problems we encounter is that we're using information in ways we previously could not. 

Previously, we understood what was public and what was private. Now we have this whole new gray area, of information that's neither public nor private but "shared" -- made public to a limited group of people. We're still figuring out what the rules are in this gray area. 



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