Marketers and Search Engines in particular have been trying to feed us the same line forever. Both insist that consumers are perfectly happy to hand over private information in return for incentives or a better user experience. However a recent report by the University of Pennsylvania is now fighting back on behalf of the customer. Their research states that users are not making a proactive decision to create a better shopping environment when releasing their information. We hand over our private data because we feel unable not to.
Termed the ‘inevitability of surveillance’, the findings show that the majority of consumers are not making a ‘trade-off’, they simply feel powerless to stop it.
It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way
One of the most startling finds in this research is that a staggering 91% of all respondents disagreed with the statement ‘if companies give me a discount, it is a fair exchange for them to collect information about me without my knowing’. A figure that laughs in the face of the level of surveillance tracking that most users are now experiencing online.
In another question, users were asked whether or not ‘It’s fair for an online or physical store to monitor what I’m doing online when I’m there, in exchange for letting me use the store’s wireless internet, or Wi-Fi, without charge’. And a resounding 71% said it was not. Yet this happens every day.
For years marketers have been calling it a ‘trade-off’ and claiming consumers were happy to transact. But as this research shows, it’s not that consumers accept the situation, it’s just that they don’t know what to do about it.
Education, Education, Education
The people behind the report have suggested that one of the key reasons people feel the ‘inevitability of surveillance’ is because they have not been educated on how to protect themselves. Whilst many questioned have tried to shield themselves from surveillance in the past, it has happened so often they have simply given up. Yet most people still do not understand the extent of the information being gathered about them.
Use a public Wi-Fi and it is not just the organisation offering the service that can see everything you do, but it is possible all the unsavoury characters around you can too. Go onto your bank to check your balance before your buy that new top, and who knows who has just got your passwords. Buy a holiday and who is going to know when you are going away and how long you will be away for.
As more and more of our daily activities require online activity, how can you possibly know where your data is going?
Make Security a Certainty
Simply by using EasyHide-VPN, it is possible to create a barrier around your internet activity, protecting against the possibility of data capture, even when you are using public Wi Fi.
It doesn’t matter if a facility is free, it should still be private. And with a VPN service that will hide IP addresses and offer security, it puts you back in control.
If 91% of users are not happy with the amount of information flowing around the internet, be the one to do something about it. It doesn’t cost the earth, but the benefits can be priceless.