A study on consumer privacy based on a survey of over 36,000 US consumers, specifically regarding Internet-connected TVs, from Ace Metrix, a specialist in measuring the impact of video advertising, highlights the discrepancies between the ‘consent’ companies claim they receive and the ‘consent’ consumers are unaware they give.
“Research and data companies need to be doing more for consumers to protect their privacy and secure the data they provide, or else they risk extinction,” advised Peter Daboll, Chief Executive Officer of Ace Metrix. “Even in the wake of some of the most dangerous security breaches in history…most research and data collectors have done little to adjust their business practices to secure consumers’ privacy. They are missing a change in consumer and legislative sentiment. With GDPR, and the newly passed Consumer Privacy Act in California, the industry hit an inflection point on privacy. Research and data companies need to wake up. They need to be leading privacy and consumer consent reform – not following it.”
“The first big area we need to improve on is really getting consumers’ CONSENT—not using tricks, trojans or falsehoods to swindle our way into free data from unsuspecting people,” he stated. “We need to clearly describe to consumers what data we’re using, how we’re using it, and periodically remind them that we’re doing so.”
In the study, only 13 per cent of people being tracked actually knew they were being monitored AND recalled agreeing to the Terms of Service for their Smart TV. Another 49 per cent of people were unsure if their TV viewing habits were being monitored – yet 62 per cent of them had TVs connected to the Internet. While data companies are adamant that they receive viewers’ consent, 75 per cent of the consumers in Ace Metrix’s study had no idea how they gave ‘consent’ in the first place.
Ace Metrix suggests that some Smart TV manufacturers are particularly shady with respect to collecting detailed consumer data without their knowledge or consent. From the consumer side, most people would not think their default privacy setting allows almost limitless access to their behaviour (through their IP Address) when they set up their new TV.
“Little do they know, that from then on, every action – programme, ad, website, stream – is being collected, monitored and shared with other data vendors,” explained Daboll. “Integrating data companies merge data based on IP address and cookies associated with it. This IP/cookie match gives marketers access to one’s gender, age, address, interests, and other offline data.”
The Ace Metrix survey revealed 61 per cent of consumers with a specific brand of Smart TVs were unsure whether their TV device collected data about their viewing habits. Another 21 per cent said they were not being monitored; 8 per cent knew they were and remembered agreeing to the terms; 7 per cent knew but didn’t remember agreeing to anything and only 3 per cent knew and disabled it.