Privacy Debate Often Neglects Consumer Views on Data Sensitivity
Lares Institute, APCO Worldwide Study Highlights Need for Paradigm Shift, Consumer Insights
Washington, D.C. (July 26, 2012) – Understanding what individuals think about privacy and data sensitivity is critical to shaping, defining and organizing societal norms and laws regarding information protection, according to a study released today by APCO Worldwide and The Lares Institute.
The report, authored by APCO International Advisory Council (IAC) member and privacy expert Andrew Serwin and APCO Worldwide Vice President Tina Stow, emphasizes the need to place the individual at the center of the privacy and data sensitivity debates, provides revealing insights about consumer sentiment toward data sensitivity, and re-introduces the concept of Privacy 3.0 – the Principle of Proportionality – that highlights the need to understand what individuals think about privacy and data sensitivity to appropriately inform proportional protections.
Among the study's key findings:
- The current-day model for privacy can only be effective if it is based in an examination of data sensitivity (what individuals and societies think about privacy)
- An analysis of data sensitivity is critical to inform proportional protections
- Consistent with what privacy commentators have suggested, consumers rank social security numbers, passwords, personal identification numbers, credit card account numbers and financial information among the most sensitive data elements
- However, consumers did not rank as highly sensitive other information that commentators typically focus on such as geolocation, sexual orientation or religious background
- The results indicate that Baby Boomers (46-65-year-olds) are the most privacy-sensitive age cohort and may warrant additional consideration as policies are developed
"Current privacy models fall short of providing a blueprint that accurately reflects how individuals really feel about information and how it's used," said Serwin, executive director, The Lares Institute. "Privacy 3.0 allows businesses and regulators alike to focus on information that people are concerned about, particularly those businesses that are implementing concepts like Privacy by Design, which focuses on proactively addressing privacy in a user-centric way."
The report, The Eye of the Beholder: Operationalizing Privacy by Design Through the Power of Consumer Choice, comes at a time when concern over privacy is at an all-time high as rapid advancements in technology enable constant information collection and processing.
"This study provides significant insights for companies striving to live up to stakeholder expectations around privacy," said Stow. "Businesses have the opportunity to differentiate in the marketplace by living up to a clearly articulated approach to privacy and information management. Brands that allow the consumer – the individual – to participate in that process and engage in a two-way dialogue can expect net positive gains to their brand and reputation."
This study, the concept of Privacy 3.0, and how companies can use information to fuel more effective decision-making and enhance brand and reputation will be discussed at an upcoming forum co-hosted by The Lares Institute and APCO Worldwide. More information and a link to register to attend the event may be found here.
Throughout his career, Serwin has advised Fortune 500 and emerging companies concerning global privacy compliance in a diverse set of industries, including emerging technologies, health care, life sciences and personalized medicine. At APCO, he joins a dynamic team of experts focused on privacy and information management issues, including: Kent Jarrell, executive vice president and director of the firm's Washington, D.C.-based litigation communication practice; Laurie Labuda, former principal administrator, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and former special advisor to Commissioner Christine Varney at the Federal Trade Commission; Tina Stow, former senior director of privacy and communications for LexisNexis; and Jonathan Winer, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement.
Click here to download a full copy of the study. Results are based upon an Internet-based survey instrument with the findings based solely on individuals living in the United States. Demographics general track the U.S. Census; more information is available upon request from The Lares Institute.
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ABOUT APCO WORLDWIDE
Founded in 1984, APCO Worldwide is an award-winning, independently owned global communication, stakeholder-engagement and business-strategy firm with offices in major cities throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. APCO clients include corporations and governments; industry associations and nonprofit organizations; and six of the top 10 companies on the Fortune 500. The firm is a majority women-owned business.
About The Lares Institute
The Lares Institute is a think tank that researches issues related to emerging technology, information governance and legal process management, including: cyberterrorism and national security; health care; consumer protection; Internet-based issues, including online retail and children’s online concerns; cloud computing and social media; ERISA; and privacy litigation. Executive Director Andrew Serwin has been named to Security Magazine’s Top 25 Most Influential People in the Security Industry and was recently ranked second by one leading IT publication on their Best Individual Privacy Advisors list. He is also the author of Information Security and Privacy: A Guide to Federal and State Law and Compliance, published by Thomson Reuters. Learn more about The Lares Institute at www.laresinstitute.com.