Is consumer data collection an invasion of privacy?


02 Oct 2016

Customer data collection's implications on privacy

With most companies becoming digital, the life of consumers, consequently, is becoming digital.

While most consumers understand that data collection is essential to the functioning of these companies, the line between data collection and invasion of privacy is getting increasingly blurred.

Data collectors

So who collects your data?

So who collects your data?

With increasing digitization of business, collecting customer data has become an important, if not an absolute necessity, for consumer-facing companies to operate efficiently.

A bulk of customers' data is collected by third-parties that operate behind the scenes for such companies.

These third-parties include internet service providers (ISPs), content-delivery networks (CDNs) and cloud services through which billions of e-commerce transactions and other activities take place.

Consensus among adult consumers

According to research by the Pew Research Centre, 91% of American adult consumers agree or strongly agree that they have lost control about how their personal information is collected and used by companies.

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The dark side of consumer data collection

While data collection is essential to how online companies and services work, the aforementioned third-parties often track and sell consumers' online behaviour data.

While the Federal Communications Commission in the U.S. is cracking down on ISPs selling consumer data without consent, it is imperative that ISPs, CDNs and the like adhere by a code of ethics and transparency with regards to consumer data.

Company ethics

The ethical way forward

The ethical way forward

With the sale of customers' data gradually becoming a potent threat to privacy, and since it is not possible for regulatory bodies alone to stop the same, the only way forward is if companies adhere to an ethical policy of treating data.

The above entails the companies disclosing information to users regarding access to their data, period of data retention and so on.

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