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Is Privacy Just a Selling Point? Exploring Privacy in the Digital Age


February 1, 2023 By Aurelia Noel, Head of digital transformation – dentsu X

A discussion about our right to privacy and how brands and agencies alike should approach the controversial subject.

28 January 2023, was the 17th edition of Data Protection Day. The day aims to raise awareness on the right to data protection. 


As a keen transformation and innovation expert, I have been closely observing the evolution of privacy in our digital age. The topic of privacy has been hotly debated in recent years, accelerated by many scandals, data breaches and major announcements from the likes of Apple or Google. Still, some people are arguing that it has become just another "selling point." for well-intended companies. 


My question is with privacy being a fundamental right, can it really be reduced to a mere marketing ploy? 


When thinking about Privacy, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the first that comes to mind; AI security is a major concern for many people. The fear is that AI algorithms will be used to invade our privacy and steal our personal information. However, in most cases AI is used for the opposite reason. AI algorithms are used to protect our privacy by detecting and preventing unauthorized access to sensitive data. By emphasizing the privacy features of an AI system, companies can differentiate themselves from the competition and attract customers who are concerned about the security of their personal information. 


Privacy has also been referred to as currency in the digital age. This is because our personal information has become valuable to companies. They collect, analyse, and sell our data to other organizations. However, my belief is that privacy should not be for sale. Our personal information is a fundamental right that should be protected, not used for financial gain. 


Another issue that has arisen with the rise of technology is "always-on awareness." This means that we are constantly connected to the internet and our personal information is accessible to others. This can be dangerous for our privacy, as our personal data can be accessed by unauthorized parties. Although, there are solutions to this problem. By using encryption and other security measures, we can protect our personal information from being accessed by others. 


It is important to note that privacy is not just a concern for individuals. Companies also need to be aware of the importance of privacy and take measures to protect their sensitive information. According to a study conducted by PwC, 75% of companies believe that data privacy is essential to the success of their business. Similarly, 87% of consumers believe privacy is a fundamental right (just 13% believe it’s a privilege). It is in a company’s best interest to make it their priority to invest in privacy-enhancing technologies, address the complexity of their organisation and implement strict data privacy policies. 


While there are some challenges to privacy in the digital age, there is also a positive outlook. Technology has given us the tools to protect our privacy and secure our personal information. By taking advantage of these tools and being aware of the risks, we can ensure that our privacy is protected in the digital age. 


It is also massively important to consider the dystopian side of privacy in the digital age. With the increasing use of technology, there is a risk that privacy could be completely lost. This could result in a society where individuals are constantly monitored, and personal information is used for malicious purposes. It's crucial for individuals and companies to take privacy seriously and work to protect it. 


To wrap this up : AI security, privacy as currency, and "always-on awareness" are all challenges that we face in protecting our confidentiality. However, by taking advantage of technology and being aware of the risks, we can ensure that our privacy is protected in the digital age. 


1-Source : PwC — Global Digital Trust Insights Survey 2022 

2- Source: 2020 Consumer Privacy Research by Microsoft Advertising in partnership with iProspect