The Opt-In Economy

imageShould you automatically be opted-in?

Or, should you be able to decide?

I was talking with a long time friend from Microsoft recently. He is an expert in the retail space and we both ended up talking about privacy and need to allow people to opt-out of their data being collected.

Which led to talking about Opting-in and whether this should be automatic and the default option for data collection when entering a business and/or a public or private space.

The fact is that everything we do is being tracked and stored. Whether this data is being actively monitored or not is somewhat irrelevant.

  • When you “sign” that mobile phone contract you give away a lot of your rights.
  • When you “agree” to accept that grocery store points card you give away a lot of your rights.
  • When you “say yes” to the terms of service for any loyalty program you give away a lot of your rights.

The very fact of your acceptance of these programs is your commitment to give up some of your rights. The question is … Can you get them back?

Involuntary Opt-in

When you are driving, walking or doing almost anything in a public or private place you are likely being capture on some form of closed circuit video capture system. By the fact that you are there you have “opted-in” to the capture process.

You might want to access, review and use that captured content if there is an incident involving you or people you know. However, what about ownership? Who owns the content that has been captured? Especially if you didn’t explicitly opt-in.

Fair Use: There are tomes of information available for people that want to explore the ideas and implications of Fair Use of Content. Start with the CMSI if you are interested in this topic.

This post will not go into monstrous detail over the topic of fair use. This post is focused on the idea that content about you is being captured. That content, whether in the form of web searches, cookies, video, audio, pictures, and all the ancillary metadata that comes with it, should be somewhat protected. The question is … who should protect it? who should control it? who gets to use it?

Data is the Key

  • Privacy
  • Sovereignty
  • Protection

Which brings up a few more questions than it does answers. One of the top priorities for CIO’s across the board is data governance, sovereignty and protection of both corporate data and customer data. There is a question related to the idea that customer data is corporate data. Meaning, a corporation takes the time to capture the data therefore they “own” the data.

Security & Governance Are Top Priorities for CIOs
Source: Forrester & NRF, Feb 2015

Ethical Implications

imageA lot of people have heard the story of the father that found out his daughter was pregnant based on the mail the family was receiving from Target. This is not an indictment against Target.

However, it points to the fact that for many years, retailers have been able to pinpoint a specific customer based on purchasing behavior and send them targeted advertising.

No one should be surprised by this.

But, it does bring up a few questions:

Is this right? Is this wrong? Should this practice be legislated?

The Big Question is … Did you Opt-In to receive such messages?

If yes … then the answer is that you “asked” for it.

What do you think?

  • Should you be in control of your data?
  • Should you be allowed to Opt-in?
  • Who owns data about you?
  • Should you have the right to see it? scrub it? delete it?

Drop a comment and join the conversation. I promise I will not auto-opt you in.

image credits: memegen


Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2. He is currently the consulting with Microsoft and partners to drive Community Engagement and Alliances.

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@jshuey or connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+ He is active in the Microsoft Partner Community and is the co-founder and President of the IAMCP Seattle chapter.

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