The results confirm what TY4NS has noted a few times: Much of the data that Web profilers collect about us is laughably inaccurate. But it also reveals that one of the things Netizens care least about is shopping data – which happens to be something online trackers are keenly interested in.
So Enliken saw an opportunity here. Why not give retailers the data they crave, in exchange for discounts or other benefits for shoppers who are willing to share? Hence Enliken’s Web-based loyalty card program, which will begin testing with major retailers in August, according to CEO Marc Guldimann.
Here’s how it will work. You’ll sign into the loyalty card program by logging into a participating retailer’s site. Then you’ll surf the Web the way you normally would.
Say the participating store is Wal-Mart. You search Amazon for a pair of discounted Oakleys. When you visit the next Web site, you’ll see an ad from Wal-Mart listing a special price on Oakley sunglasses just for you. The retailer will collect more data because it will know who you are, but you’ll get a real benefit from it – not just a “more interesting” ad.
“The retailer is able to win back that purchase by offering you a better deal,” says Guldimann.
The idea, he adds, is to get these trackers to stop collecting sensitive information, like demographics or health or political data, and to collect only the data they need in order to sell more products.
Guldimann also hopes to offer consumers offer more granular control over their data – telling Enliken’s partners what kinds of data you’re willing to share with them, whom they can share it with, and how long they can keep it.
He adds that Enliken plans to enforce strict rules about how retailers treat the data you’ve decided to share with them.
“To comply with our program, they need to be 100 percent transparent about what they’re doing with your data,” he says. “If they aren’t we’ll shut them off.”
Giving your personal information to retailers in exchange for deals may seem like an odd way to go about ensuring your privacy, Guldimann admits. But it’s still better than the vast amounts of data that are being collected today without notice or consent.
There’s nothing wrong with giving up a little information in exchange for something of value, provided you’re the one making that decision. Privacy is not about being invisible, it’s about being able to control your data – and, when possible, profit from it.