The Privacy Apogee
The biggest topic that you will grapple with in 2011 is consumer privacy. We are at the most liberal and lenient point of consumer privacy in the history of time. It’s primarily because digital data is spewed by consumers with each click, like, Tweet, share, and update with reckless abandon. Consumers are barely aware of the digital footprints they’re creating and we don’t know how to handle it. There are no rules here.
Consumers are racing to new digital medium at breakneck speeds to be early adopters of the next best thing and are literally addicted to digital. Our obsession is so ravenous that almost half of smartphone users will wake up in the middle of the night to check for digital updates. It’s not their fault really, in fact I include myself in this frantic race to get the newest browser, the latest app, or to connect with nearly anyone who asks. Heck, I downloaded the Owner’s Manual to a Hyundai on my iPad within seconds of watching a TV commercial just because I could. I have no idea what data Hyundai now has on me and if or when I’ll start receiving ads or emails containing must-have offers for a car that I probably won’t ever buy (although it looks sweet!). My point is that we’re on the precipice of a substantive change in the way that consumer data is collected and utilized. If we (and by “we” I mean we digital measurers, organizations and institutions) don’t get our acts together in the first quarter of Q1 then we will have regulation forced upon us.
In my opinion, the number one most critical component for even getting off the ground with privacy protection is education. We must educate consumers, organizations, developers and governments to have a meaningful conversation about privacy. If we fall short of that, ignorance about how data is collected, how it’s used, and who uses it, will continue to be vilified by consumers and media sources that don’t know What they Know.
Those of you who are up to speed on your celestial mechanics will know that an apogee reflects the furthest point of orbit from earth. What I seek to explore is the farthest point of ethical data collection from a consumer. My working diagram above depicts your average consumer at the epicenter of privacy and the way we track his digital activities using technology that extends from innocuous to invasive. My plan is to flesh out this concept with current tracking capabilities and potential consumer benefits. Moreover, I intend to create a blueprint for accountability. Ultimately the goal is to produce an infographic that conveys several things:
- For consumers – The Privacy Apogee will illustrate data tracking capabilities that exist today and highlight some of the benefits of opting-in to these tracking practices.
For developers – It will offer guidance on what methods of data to collect and how to communicate data collection, storage and utilization practices in clear language.
For organizations – The Privacy Apogee will illustrate just how far – is too far – by showing what’s technically possible and what’s morally ethical.
In creating this work, I hope to educate and inform the masses by offering a public service that will open some eyes to the critical imperative for self-regulation before we have governmental mandates forced upon us. The Privacy Apogee will illustrate current technological capabilities for tracking consumers’ digital actions and offer both positive and negative repercussions of those actions.
So back to you Captain Blackbeak…I’m listening and this is what I’m doing to create change. It’s a change in perception. A change in education. And a change in direction for our industry. But like you, I cannot do this alone and need the support and mindshare of our industry. With the help of my partner Eric and the industry #measure pros out there my goal is to crowd source this idea to ensure that I’ve fully considered the technology capabilities and the benefits of tracking practices, So I need your help. The Web Analyst’s Code of Ethics is one part of this, but I’ll be working to define the pros and cons of data collection and the methods by which we accomplish our task. Stay tuned for more, as this is just the beginning…
But in the meantime, what do you think?