Sunday, November 14, 2004

Is privacy the enemy of progress? (

The headline of this comment at, Is privacy the enemy of progress? may be a little overblown, but the article itself does discuss the balancing of interests inherent in dealing with customer information. On one hand, people should have control over their personal information. On the other hand, businesses have an interest in understanding their customers, their wants and their needs. Those can work together where the individual hands over personal information in exchange for better service.

While the comment may be framed in in an extreme manner ("Companies should try to encourage customers to waive rights to privacy as often as they can"), the key is that customers should be encouraged to hand over their information. It should not be compulsory and when the customer sees the value, they'll hand it over. It's an entirely different matter if they are compelled to hand it over... (Of course, as research shows, customers talk a good line about protecting their privacy but don't often act in a consistent manner.)

Is privacy the enemy of progress? - Computing:

"...In many ways, privacy is the enemy of big business. It should be the goal of every large corporation or organisation to find out as much about their customers as they can, to help satisfy their customers' needs. That is the basis of any customer relationship management system, which attempts to learn and retain as much data about the consumer as possible.

Companies should try to encourage customers to waive rights to privacy as often as they can. That way, firms can get the information they need without breaching the Data Protection Act. If a consumer agrees to tell a company everything about themselves, then how can the commissioner take action against it?

A good example of this is the way that supermarkets have encouraged the use of customer loyalty cards. In return for discounts, customers are willing to waive their rights to privacy and allow the supermarkets to maintain an electronic record of what they buy and when they buy it...."

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