The Scary Face Of Data: Consumers Are More Wary Than A Year Ago

Consumers are wising up. 

They are less likely to share data about themselves than they were just a year ago, and they are not swayed by the promise of a personalized experience, according to the 2019 Privacy Study by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF).

The detail about which consumers are cagiest is the home address — there has been a drop of 10% in willingness to supply it. 

Next are the spouse’s first and last name (-8%) personal email address (-7%) and first and last names (-6%).   

Why this wariness? It may be because fewer respondents are confused by terms like “first party data” and “third party data” as the study notes.

‘Of course, it may also be partly due to the almost daily revelations about misdeeds and advances by the big information-gatherers.

For example, privacy advocates are alarmed by the news that Amazon's Rekognition, a cloud-based facial recognition system being marketed to law enforcement, can detect fear in peoples’ faces, according to Common Dream.



It can also supposedly see when people are happy, sad, angry, surprised, disgusted, calm and confused. 

This is frightening, even for someone who is inured to the daily transgressions in dataland.

Let’s say a person sees someone they are attracted to in the crowd, and this innocent emotion is detected. Does this imply the person is a future sex criminal? Does the thought become father to the deed? 

Will a hypothetical police state somewhere be able to see by a facial expression that someone does not support the regime?

Forgive us our paranoia. But Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, says that "facial recognition already automates and exacerbates police abuse, profiling, and discrimination," Common Dreams reports.

Greer adds that Amazon “is setting us on a path where armed government agents could make split second judgments based on a flawed algorithm's cold testimony. Innocent people could be detained, deported, or falsely imprisoned because a computer decided they looked afraid when being questioned by authorities.”

Amazon announced on Monday that in addition to adding fear as an emotion, it has improved accuracy of gender identification and age range estimation.” 

Back to the (relatively) innocent world of marketing. It's no small thing if brands get 7% fewer email sign-ups, a percentage that is likely to go up. Once again, email marketers are getting hurt by conditions for which they are not to blame. 

On the bright side, people are still willing to surrender their gender, race, marital status, employment status, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation and citizenship, according to the ARF -- but not everyone.

Perhaps reflecting the climate in the country, 21% are unwilling to disclose whether they are U.S. citizens. And while this may not have anything to do with it, Hispanics have a greater understanding than others of the terms used on privacy statements.

Speaking of trust, people with high school educations have less of it — they distrust scientists, advertising and social media. And African-Americans are slightly less trusting of institutions, particularly the police. 

Democrats and Asian-Americans are more likely to trust TV news and the media. 

As for the police, when it comes to trust, baby boomers, Republicans and whites are more likely to have faith in them.

That may not hold up if the police deploy Rekognition.

The ARF surveyed 1,100 consumers in the U.S.



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