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The business of privacy

By davebirch posted Jun 4 2007 at 11:01 AM
[Dave Birch] I was at a stimulating meeting of the Enterprise Privacy Group, discussing the business case for privacy. Setting aside what "privacy" means (or, for that matter, what "business case" means if you're the Home Office or the National Health Service) it was noticeable that we struggled to identity a clear business case. Basically, as far as I could see, because consumers don't really care about privacy, it's hard to sell it to them. But it may be that we were taking an unsophisticated view, as by coincidence I just came across a paper on the privacy valuation that contains some useful and stimulating thoughts for me to mull over, mostly stemming from the "privacy paradox", whereby consumers claim to value privacy highly do not seem to incorporate privacy concerns into their transactions. If I've understood it correctly, this paper helps to explain why this is.

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One of the delegates (it was under Chatham House rules) hit the nail on the head, I think, when he observed that privacy should be the sizzle in the sausage rather than the sausage, which I interpret to mean that privacy should be an integral part of the customer proposition that sways the choice of product or service. Suppose, for example, my bank offered me a credit card that was a good deal, but with privacy as the added spice: the card has an arbtrary name (Bob Builder) on it, there's no magnetic stripe and there's no embossing. This is a card that can only be used in chip and PIN terminals. If I drop it in the street, it's useless to a thief: they don't know the PIN and since they don't know who the card belongs so they can't use it online. Now if I was given that choice, I'd carry the "stealth" card with me every day and I'd leave my stripe card in desk because I'd only need it in when travelling to less-advanced payment societies with no chip terminals (eg, the U.S.).

These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]


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