Balancing privacy policy in a thriving digital ecosystem

Finding the fine line between privacy efforts that protect consumers and thwart preferences

Privacy and transparency go hand in hand. Or at least they should.

More and more disclosure has been the name of the game recently as regulators attempt to prevent consumers from being exploited in the name of a fast and cheap buck.

This has meant making it clear what info consumers give away when they click the now ubiquitous “I accept” button.

Recent positive developments have given rise to a conversation around the role of personally identifiable information (PII) in giving consumers control over who has their data and how they use it. Today, consumers are more empowered than ever to opt-out of marketing that uses their data in ways they don’t like. And opt in to what works for them.

But is there such a thing as going too far to protect consumer privacy? Consumers themselves seem to think so.

The Global Data and Marketing Alliance is out with its 2022 “Global Data Privacy: What The Consumer Really Thinks” report that surfaces some fascinating findings.

Among them is the takeaway that about half of the global consumers in the 16 global markets surveyed “feel more comfortable with the notion of data exchange with businesses.” The study goes on to reveal various increases in this sentiment in certain regions versus previous years, including consumers happy with the amount of personal information they share with organizations.

So what does this tell us? That the model is working.

Consumers recognize that in exchange for free everything on the internet, they’ve got to give a little to get a lot. From apps to content and everything in between, enduring business models have been built on this well-established barter system.

The danger lies in disrupting this model with overreach that threatens the bilateral flow of consented consumer info and the content they want to consume.

Perhaps the reason consumers have grown comfortable with this arrangement is that the vast majority have never had an issue that made them second guess it.

We hear all the time about massive data breaches that expose sensitive consumer info like SSNs, credit cards, and passwords. But none of this information is collected in routine, ad-based transactions.

In fact, at BRIDGE, we take steps to cleanse our data of anything remotely sensitive to consumers. Basically, if it’s information that could be damaging in some way, it’s wiped.

Further, with the info we do have (data collected via informed consent), we only support ethical marketing to consumers. In other words, nothing slimy like robocalls and spammy texts.

Do we send emails? Sure. But they’re easily unsubscribed if they aren’t valuable to the consumer and just as easily ignored if the message isn’t relevant at the moment.

We support the overdue privacy rules being enacted globally and on a state-by-state basis here at home. We also support the right of consumers to participate in a thriving digital economy that lets them exchange limited data for content, apps, information, entertainment, and more.

As we all continue to walk this fine line, let’s be transparent and honest and protect consumers from scrupulous business tactics. But let’s also not lose sight of how we can best enable a positive digital experience that results in a win-win for all parties involved.

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