INTERNET PRIVACY: HOW FAR IS TOO FAR?
There’s no denying that Internet privacy is a thing of the past these days. Do you ever wonder how the shoes you were just looking at on one site suddenly appear in an advertisement on another? Strange, right? Not once you understand what’s going on behind the scenes.
What we do on the web is rarely, if ever, completely confidential. Congress’ recent vote to repeal privacy protection for Internet service providers is only going to continue making your information more public.
Internet service providers will now have the ability to sell consumer information to businesses for advertising purposes. For the marketing industry as a whole, this could be an opportunity to broaden reach and individualize marketing strategies based on what information is available about consumers. It does, however, come at a cost: You could lose the trust of consumers, and, as a result, may actually see a drop in sales.
This can be considered a win for Internet providers. But from an ethical business standpoint, it’s a bit alarming. Displeasing consumers by making them feel like their privacy is being violated is obviously not an ideal business practice. In more remote areas of the country, consumers may only have one choice for their internet provider, and if that provider is one that is selling its customers’ information, they won’t have any other option. Financial literacy professional Melissa Horton sums this conflict up nicely:
Amidst all the chaos from this change, it’s important to note that Internet providers who are planning take part in this new policy must offer all current customers the option to opt-out of personal data collection. This is something most people don’t know, nor something many Internet providers do a great deal to make you aware of. Consumers who are looking to keep their privacy even more secure could also use a virtual private network (VPN), a tool to hide your identity on the internet. This ensures that everything you do on the web cannot be traced back to you, and you can rest easy knowing your social security number and address will not be floating around in cyberspace.
THE BIG QUESTIONS
Despite this opt-out option, the big question still is: At what point do we value our internet use more than our own personal privacy? If customers can’t trust that the data they put out on the internet will be safe from being collected and sold by their Internet provider, they may discontinue their service, and everyone will be at a disadvantage.
What are your thoughts on Internet privacy for business? Connect with us!