Control Over Personal Data


Control Over Personal Data

Written by: Stefanie Beach, Founder & CEO


According to a study conducted by Mobile Ecosystem Forum of 6,500 smartphone users worldwide ages 16 and older, just 27% of respondents felt they had some control over how their personal data is used by mobile apps and services. Another 36% of respondents felt they didn’t have a choice in how apps could use their data. Could this be the case or is it just a lack of understanding? Most users are unclear on where privacy settings are in the apps they download and use. So is it really the advertisers responsibility? How many times do we sign up or download things (like apps) and don't read the fine print? Well, privacy terms are usually a part of that fine print.


Another poll of 1,000 US adults by ExpressVPN also found that consumers are doubtful when it comes to data privacy. This study stated that, 71% of respondents said they were concerned about how marketers collect and utilize their personal data. Again, we can attribute this to a lack of understanding and knowledge and even though 1,000 people is a small sample set, it's an example of how most consumers think.


Consumer champions believe that data privacy laws should be overhauled. In an April 2018 poll of US internet users by Janrain, 68% of US internet users said they would support rules like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the US. The GDPR is an EU law which stipulates that a user's data can only be used if they give a company their explicit permission. Is this what is coming for the US in upcoming years?  The state of California passed a bill similar to GDPR over the summer. Known as The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the law will not formally go into effect until 2020. But will other states follow suit?


The people taking these surveys about personal data usage are usually self-selected and likely are more aware about this topic than the average person. But with everyday businesses like Facebook, Target and Marriott having huge data breaches while the media publicizes inaccurate information, the public is in an uproar for action to be taken.


Another caveat is that consumers’ actions don’t always reflect the concerns that consumer groups proclaim to care about. For instance, the #DeleteFacebook movement gained traction after Facebook had several scandals over the last year. However, most people aren’t deleting Facebook. In fact eMarketer forecasts that the number of people who use Facebook per month in the US will grow from 166.2 million people in 2016 to 169.5 million people in 2018. So how much of this is really hoopla vs. valid concern? The truth is, if no one spoke about data privacy in the next year, would this still be a topic of interest or would everyone just go about their digital business like any other day?

Stefanie is the founder and CEO of SMB Media Consulting. Being in digital advertising since 2006 and working on the buy and sell side of the business has given her a unique approach to clients business. She lives in the Bronx with her wonderful husband Nick and 6 year old daughter Audrey.