Re: Conversation between companies and privacy is becoming absurd
Good points, Dan. As you can guess, not every word of our published analysis can make it into print in a media article, but we have addressed both the major points I think you're raising here.
First, we do see far more of a give-and-take dynamic here than others may recognize. In one of our recent reports on this topic, The Human Bounce Rate (Stratecast report BDA 1-05, November 2013), we wrote: "Stratecast notes that it has been proven over the last 100 years that consumers will put up with commercials in exchange for entertainment—principally, on radio and television, more recently, in video, and even at the cinema. Also, any consumer who has ever submitted personal information on a Web site, or filled out a card for a raffle, knows there are points where consumers are more than willing to give away private information in exchange for something of value." One of our key points of analysis in this area is that retailers have been losing what we term The Battleground in the Aisles, where shoppers check out items in the retailer's store and then buy them cheaper online--a phenomenon known in the industry as "showrooming"--or, through the same shop & scan app, can find the same item at another bricks-and-mortar retailer across town.
About possible legislation, and action by watchdog groups, we mentioned efforts led by Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY), and the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), a think tank led by Internet privacy experts Jules Polonetsky and Christopher Wolf, which seeks to advance responsible data practices. Another group keeping an eye on privacy is the Wireless Registry, which, roughly, seeks to do for retail analytics what the Do Not Call Registry does re: telemarketing.
Further in the same report we wrote, "Focusing privacy concerns solely on bricks-and-mortar retailers is naïve: if shoppers believe every move they make on an e-tailer's site is not tracked, analyzed, and leveraged for some commercial purpose, they are misinformed. And retailers may do a better job serving customers if they can collect and crunch Big Data to figure out what customers want."