Sales & Marketing

Post Cambridge Analytica scandal, what is our responsibility towards privacy?

4 min read

29 May 2018

Attitudes towards privacy have fundamentally changed say 4,460 surveyed after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. So, what is the European technology community’s responsibility?

With multiple data breach-related scandals lurking around the corner and General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR)now in force, it is clear we are taking data privacy more seriously.

While a change in attitude was inevitable, the demand for greater privacy has grown exponentially as a direct result of the fear created by recent headlines, such as: “50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach”.

In Europe, the regulators are ahead of the curve and the GDPR brings a welcome change. So, what more could we do as a tech industry? Flux ran a survey in partnership with OnePulse, a real-time market research platform, to better understand how the public feel about data privacy and targeted advertisements. The results are unsurprising in the wake of the recent scandals.

Some 4,460 individuals spoke out on Onepulse, the real-time market research platform. The survey included different age groups from 17 to 65+.

  • Across every age group there is a lack of understanding of the way personal data is currently being used. This is increasing dislike of targeted adverts
  • People want to know exactly how to opt out of an advert when they get it
  • People want to know why they are getting that advert when they receive it

Distrust exists as a result of an inadequate level of understanding. This is to be expected. As humans we naturally feel frustrated when we don’t understand something and if we are faced with the result of actions we don’t understand (i.e. the processing of our personal data) then we may just think the worst of the situation or at least negatively about the companies responsible.

Dave Pell put it beautifully when we he wrote: “Do you really think it’s a coincidence most of the buttons you press on the web are labeled with the word submit?” That may send shivers down your spine. But should it be scary? Especially, when we are able to produce incredible products purely with the access to data.

As previous headlines tell us, with great possibilities in the world of tech comes great risk.

Dive into survey results

If you’re a company reading this and thinking this would be your worst nightmare, then you probably know you can do much better. Or it may be that you are in a position that should know the answers to what, where and why your company processes the data it does and you can’t right now. We’re sorry to say, but gone are the concerns of “are we sharing too much?”.

Instead, embrace data transparency for the benefit of your users and yourself if we want to start feeling our data is safe.

By taking data transparency seriously you will realise GDPR is not there to kill your conversion rate. But instead, you will begin, if not already doing so, on-boarding better informed users who trust their data is safe, which in turn may result in less complaints, queries and avoiding the headlines for the wrong reason.

Farhana Haque is risk and regulatory officer at Flux