Consumer Data Privacy: How Far Will you Go for Convenience?

By Kristin Cavallaro, Knowledge and Data Analysis Specialist

Recently I was scrolling through Facebook to see what was going on in my social space. I came across an article titled “Cyborgs at Work: Employees Getting Implanted with Microchips,” featuring a picture of a guy holding a tiny chip between two fingers. This quickly caught my attention, so I opened the article which was posted by one of our local news stations. I even double-checked across other sources to make sure it wasn’t some late-to-the-game April fool’s joke.  Nope! It’s real.

The article describes a company in Sweden that is testing the use of implanted microchips (they call it “bio-hacking”) to take the place of security badges in one building. The chips can also be used for the printers and to purchase smoothies.  The trend is catching on – currently about eight-percent of the building is micro-chipped.

Would you do it?  I put some thought into this. I would have to say that I would probably pass.  Aside from my extreme fear of needles, I’m the type of person that will deny some applications access to my phone’s location, never mind the location of my physical self. What other data could be collected from this device?

Consumer data privacy is a hot topic in the world today. Between data breaches and identity theft, a great majority of consumers are concerned about their personal data. In fact, in a study conducted by JD Power and SSI in 2014, we found that between eighty and ninety-percent of respondents worldwide felt they had lost control over their personal data and how it’s used. Given this figure, we still see consumers using social media, playing location-based games, or automating their home with new WiFi or app-based devices. At what point does convenience or fun outweigh the risk of personal privacy? How does this threshold preference differ from person to person?

This is the future of technology. This may also be the future of market research and passive data collection. Is there something that we as an industry can do now to help ease the concerns of consumers? Can we put them back in control of their personal data while still gathering valuable insights?