-By Ashwin Krishnan, Senior Vice President of Product Management, Strategy, Technical Marketing at HyTrust
It wasn’t very long back that businesses were making the big move from bricks and mortar to www and now we have started seeing a reverse exodus. But with data companies becoming more and more powerful, will the usurping of our data ever stop?
The other day, our family ventured into our first ever experience of a brick-and-mortar Amazon store in San Jose.
How weird is that?
The largest e-commerce and cloud provider in the world opens a physical store and it instantly becomes a tourist spot!
To be fair, it was a very nicely done store with books – mostly physical – and other gadgets to augment the experience. But the one that caught my eye (since we don’t have an Alexa smart assistant) was Alexa! The video version was even cooler and it even had a sense of humor (Mountains aren’t just fun, they are hill-arious!). But every time I asked it something, I had this weird feeling that I was providing it with another piece of information about myself (yes it probably did not know who I am so I was safe …but on second thought some of the devices did have a camera and with facial recognition, so I am not so sure any more).
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All this leads to a fundamental question that we as consumers need to ask ourselves…
How far is too far in the name of convenience?
However, it is not a one size fits all approach that I am advocating- it is neither practical nor necessary. At the same time, the level of transparency in terms of what data is being collected and what needs to be made aware to the consumer.
And it cannot be grudgingly obfuscated behind a 50 page EULA (End user license agreement) (aka ‘cover your ass’) in case a class action lawsuit is filed.
Rather, I am proposing a much more obvious ‘in your face’ dashboard that is easy to understand and act on. For instance, take Netflix. I am a rabid fan of this service. However, I haven’t the foggiest idea, how much data they have collected of me (and my family). The helpful ‘profiles they suggest’ in my book is not just to provide a customized movie recommendation but rather to slice and dice by demographics and sell the viewing patterns over months and years to third party providers. Now that may be my figment but there is no way for me to debunk that or validate.
What if, every time I load Netflix, it quickly shows how much data it has collected of my family, who it has sold the same information to and because of the data we provided it is giving me a month of free service. #Wow. It may sound spooky but I contend this is happening already, making it much more obvious will not only endear itself to its customers, but raise the bar for Hulu, YouTube and others to challenge them to do the same.
This is the world that I am looking forward to. One, where big data collection, insight and customization is still the norm, but making it known upfront (and constantly) and putting a monetary value to it so the consumer is constantly in the know would make this data invasion a welcome one. Otherwise, I fear we are constantly going to be surprised, shocked and violated by how much we share unknowingly and a backlash could be coming sooner than many think.
That would not be a good day!