With emerging and changing technology there is always a sense of the unknown about the working parts of these tools to the average user. Focus is placed on capabilities and how these tools can be utilized to enhance productivity in both the personal and professional realm. As the evolution of technology and our interactions change, so do the rules of information gathering and privacy.
Watch groups and individuals who understand the inner workings of technology do their best to help guide business practices and alert the public; In the end it is ultimately up to the consumer and the marketers to build a symbiotic relationship. In order for consumers to be provided the products and services that they desire, data is needed by marketers to better understand consumer trends. Often consumers understand this relationship and to an extent accept the tradeoff. When they are not informed about data being collected, how it is used, and if it is being shared is when it is often viewed as a concern. Negative actions from brands such as Google make consumers question if they are really in control of their privacy online.
In a report released in 2009 by Knowprivacy.org researchers found that the major concerns that individuals had pertained to the ability to control information and public display of information.
Other concerns such as marketing and aggregation can be seen as being an issue but having control over sites and how information is used holds priority. Knowprivacy.org also researched the top 100 sites and their privacy/information collecting policies.
The report mentions that often only certain content on a site may gather data. Considering that policies and content can change daily, watch groups can only do so much. Providing insight such as the report from KnowPrivacy.org can give consumers a starting point for their own research into the sites that they frequent.
As marketers it is also our ethical decisions in having complete transparency with consumers that provides a base for a strong consumer/brand relationship. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has provided an excellent report providing recommendations for businesses and policy makers. In a rapid changing world of technology the rules change just as quickly, keeping an open door with the consumer is one way to stay ahead of the game.