With the ongoing public dialogue concerning the intersection of technological innovation, national security, and privacy that followed Edward Snowden’s revelations of classified information last year, it is no surprise that privacy and security were top themes at SXSW Interactive this year.  The following summarizes key points made about privacy throughout the Interactive conference, which ended

South by Southwest (“SXSW”) Interactive kicked off last week, and Covington was there to cover privacy and big data’s big buzz, a topic which dominated much of the conference.  Among the events that took place last Friday were “Big Data Inverted: The Best Candy from Strangers?” and “Privacy Under the Covers: The Naked Truth.”  The big-data panel included Chris Colborn, R/GA Global Chief Experience Officer; Dinkar Jain, Google Product Manager; and Maria Bezaitis, Principal Engineer at Intel.  The privacy event was a “Core Conversation” that featured MeMe Jacobs Rasmussen, Adobe’s Chief Privacy Officer, VP, and Associate General Counsel; and Shaina Boone, SVP of Marketing Science at Critical Mass.

Big Data Inverted started with the premise that, as big data transforms relationships and information sharing, “people are beginning to unintentionally ‘barricade’ themselves from new experiences.”  While much of the discussion focused on how businesses can structure their models to leverage big data so that it is useful and relevant, better connected, and more available, privacy and consumer trust necessarily came up throughout the discussion.  In particular, many focused on the two sides of the big data coin:  potential and privacy.  Businesses stand to benefit if they can tame and harness big data, but not if they ignore privacy concerns inherent in amassing huge quantities of sensitive information.  Many are suggesting, however, that businesses can profit from privacy too  that is, because privacy has become so important to consumers, it can be used competitively.

Continue Reading Covington at #SXSW: If “Big Data Is the New Oil” Then “Privacy Is the New Green”

Two reports have recently been released that look at consumer perceptions of online privacy issues and examine user tracking practices on popular websites.

TRUSTe Privacy Index

TRUSTe released its Privacy Index for the second quarter of 2012, which measures consumer confidence in their online privacy.  The numbers show that consumers are concerned about web privacy issues and make decisions based on perceptions of companies’ privacy practices.

Consumer concern and mistrust about online privacy are up from Q1.  In the latest Privacy Index, 91% of U.S. adults say they worry about their privacy online (versus 90% in Q1), and 53% say they do not completely trust businesses with their information (versus 41% in Q1). 

The percent of adults that say privacy issues impact their buying decisions has remained steady.  88% of adults say they avoid companies that they believe do not protect their privacy.

Continue Reading Two Recent Privacy Reports on Consumer Confidence and Website Tracking Practices