Ovum: Big data collection colliding with privacy concerns

Changing consumer attitudes about online collection of personal data may force new business models, analyst says

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

A growing number of consumers seem to think the current model of data collection, with free Web content or services in exchange for their personal data, is out of balance, he said. Consumers are "feeling exploited," he said. "There's that feeling of, 'what am I getting out of this?'"

Data collection companies may need to establish stronger relationships with their customers or offer more incentives for customers to give up personal information, Little said. In the U.K. grocery store chain Tesco is allowing its customers to see their personal data collected by the company, he noted.

Little also sees potential for a new business model in which consumers create personal data vaults that they control, giving consumers a choice about which companies they share their personal information with. A company called Personal is one company that has begun offering personal data vaults, he said.

A move toward more consumer control of personal data won't be all bad for Internet companies, however, Little said. Personal data vaults will contain more accurate and forward-looking information than the current data collection methods can gather, he said.

The change in relationship between consumer and data collectors will change slowly, and Internet businesses shouldn't change their data collection practices immediately, Little said.

Internet companies should "keep on riding the margins of regulation and consumer acceptance in order to maximize your data set, because that is just good business," he said. "But prepare for changes where consumers start to want more of a relationship with their own data and the people who are collecting it."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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