Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Are you ready to pay extra to protect your personal data?

European Union is already taking action to protect the personal data of their citizens. A proposed new data collection reform directly refers to the way companies are able to collect and use consumers’ personal information. With these protection rules to be elected by June this year, this new policy has become a highly controversial topic.

EU officials believe that it could protect the people’s privacy, so neither IT companies nor digital marketers are able to make personal data available for commercial use, or create user profiles without prior permission. According to the new rules, users should also be given the right to be forgotten when they request it.

However, the question is whether too much government regulation could deter potential benefits for consumers and the economy. In terms of marketing, it could mean a big step back to traditional TV and outdoor advertising, since there would be significant limitation in targeted ads and direct marketing. Without user clear-cut agreements, companies wouldn’t be able to generate consumer personal data, so it could make direct marketing less effective, as well as very difficult to manage.

Some more radical opponents to the policy said that the EU's data protection reforms are a way towards "user-paid internet." They argue that if web giants such Facebook or Google couldn’t gather the personal data of users for advertising needs, the services would have to look elsewhere for funding. Users will have to pay for services, or service remains free - but we will be exposed of hundreds of adverts because personal data was not used to create targeted ads. This is why those whom the EU thinks they are protecting, are in fact not really satisfied with such initiatives.

Yes, it’s true: I don’t want somebody to take my personal details without a clear understanding of how, and whom, this data will be used. Just one glance at my junk email inbox, there are companies from somewhere in Latin America that knows I like mounting ski more than snowboarding. How did this completely unfamiliar company get my personal details? And in this case, I would definitely like to be protected from such annoying interference in my private life. But honestly, I am still not sure whether I want to pay to be protected.

Elena Sveshnikova
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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