Conflicts, Trends & Ethical Challenges of Privacy

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 2015-03-06 Email
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    Some Businesses Go Overboard

    Some Businesses Go Overboard

    Many companies push the envelope in collecting personal information every time a consumer buys a product or searches for something. Future regulation may increase transparency about how businesses collect and use this information.

The intensifying debate over digital privacy demonstrates the vast complexities of this issue. On one hand, users appreciate the advantages of having one-on-one purchasing experiences with companies. That's how, through alerts and other techniques, they quickly find what they need online and save money on the transaction. On the other hand, analytics empowers businesses to collect and use consumer data in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Such dynamics are creating a perfect storm when it comes to consumer privacy, with a broad range of developing conflicts, trends and ethical challenges. To provide some insight, Constellation Research has published "Privacy Enters Adolescence: The State of Digital Safety and Privacy in 2015." The report, which has a list price of $995, includes big-picture themes that IT professionals and executives should consider—and even debate. We've adapted the following list of privacy themes based on the report, along with some best practices for enterprises trying to strike the right balance between business-benefiting innovation and respect for customers' personal information. "The digital world brings opportunities and risks that are without precedent in the history of commerce and society," according to the report's author, Steve Wilson. "Information paradoxically is both a commodity and, in the hands of analytics wizards, a great treasure. … Society's critical dependence on ubiquitous connectivity and frictionless access to data contrasts with traditional security and privacy practices, which unfortunately regard these very properties as a problem."

Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.

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