Law in the Internet Society

Can we find a win-win way in data using?

-- By ChengyuTan - 30 Dec 2020

By collecting customers' data, some companies start to provide customers with convenient services, and some people can even be benefited from that. But is it possible for us to keep a balance between privacy protection and the new development?

The camouflage business

Since entering into the new century, more and more cab companies provide their service via smartphone apps. Instead of making a phone call, clients can request a cab service by sending a message on the smartphone, and cab companies will automatically assign the contract drivers to clients' locations. Also, the route that drivers drove will be recorded by the apps and can be reviewed afterward, meaning that detour and overcharging disputes can be reduced, since the reviewable record will deter the driver from doing that. Moreover, this development can also benefit drivers. Now, the contract driver only needs to pay the cab company $3 per month, which is a mere 3% of their previous contractual fee. To enjoy these benefits, the only thing clients need to do is to allow the apps to access their GPS function.

Why are cab companies willing to do that? That is because they can find another way to fill up its pocket. By tracking clients' smartphones, the cab companies can obtain clients' current locations, clients' routes and their destinations. Then, the cab companies can send them the targeted advertisings that focus on that data.

Cab companies are not the only ones who adopt this new development. Car insurance companies and digital payment systems are also the members of the group. Usage-based insurance allows insurers to reduce their premiums if they have good driving habits. But how car insurance companies know your driving habits? well, clients need to install a GPS device in their cars, allowing car insurance companies to track their path and analyze their habits. About payment systems, they will provide discounts to clients if clients use their systems on shopping. Do payment systems receive any return? Of course, clients' sopping details are priceless treasures for them.

Now, a tendency is shown. Business providers have a new way to make fortune: letting themself become an advertisement company or a data analysis company. Their original businesses become a camouflage Business to cover their behavior collection behavior.

Will behavior collection hurt?

The answer is clear. In order to market their advertising or data-analysis service to potential buyers, the companies will definitely need to demonstrate the efficiency of their products- they can always locate the most valuable clients who will be interested in the buyers' business. To reach that goal, cab companies or car insurance companies will collect all data it received, including clients' age, gender, location, destination, the time clients drove and their path. Based on the behavior data, those companies can infer clients' domicile, workplace, work time, even clients' preferences, traits and interests. Needless to say, payment systems can directly know clients' shopping preferences from clients' bills, so that they can “ sell clients” to the relevant business providers. The truth is, the more data is collected by those companies, the more the companies know about clients. But our privacy was lost slowly during this practice.

In Search of Lost Privacy

Can we find a win-win situation between the benefits and behavior collection? The answer is no. people should have the right to travel around without disclosing their travel details; people should also have the right to buy products without notifying others what they just buy. This right, or anonymity, has a fundamental conflict with those behavior collections. Under this circumstance, what should we do to protect people's privacy? Below is some of my idea:

Protect the right of choice

People should have the right to choose whether they want to waive their anonymity of the behaviors. Therefore, the services accompanied by behavior collection must not be the sole option for the consumers. For example, cab companies should be asked to provide services to non-apps clients, car insurance companies should be prohibited from only providing usage-based insurance to car owners and, business providers should be told that only accepting credit cards or digital payment systems are unallowable. I think, mandatory regulations may be advocated to reach that goal.

compel to provide clear and simple notice

For those who want to choose to waive their right, we should not let them just waive their right without any warning. They should be well informed of the risk and consequences of their choice before they make the decision. In order to let it real functioning, the information should be written in plain language, rather than abstruse legal words. For example, the data collectors should be required to show the sentences like: “whether you agree with our data-collecting behaviors,” “whether you agree to let us use your data on a targeted advertisement,” “whether you agree to let us sell your data to third parties,” and get clients' permission before doing so. Moreover, the information about risk and consequences must not be hidden in dozens of sentences or thousands of words; instead, the information should be notified solely.

Regulating the data collecting and controlling

For those who still decide to waive their right, their data still need to be avoided from improper collecting and using. Therefore, the company collected should be properly and reasonably related to the purpose of the original business operation, and any random or arbitrary data collecting should be prohibited. The camouflage business should not be allowed to serve as a cover for whole-scale behavior collection. Another important thing is that clients should still be seen as the owner of the data; thus, the right to delete should be allowed to be exercised by clients at any moment and in any situation.


Webs Webs

r3 - 30 Dec 2020 - 07:50:10 - ChengyuTan
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