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Playing with Privacy

Playing with Privacy

In July 2016, an augmented reality game took the world and social media by storm. Launched by Niantic Labs, Pokémon Go became the most downloaded mobile app within the first week of its release in the history of the App Store. Twelve months on, no app launch has come remotely close to taking its place.

Yet interestingly, only a few days after its release, security concerns surrounding the app became widely covered across global news channels. These concerns were based on the iPhone version of the app requesting permission to access Google Maps histories, Google searches and even read Gmail messages.

Whilst a growing number of consumers across the world increasingly agree that managing their online identity and personal information is very important, to what extent do these claims add up in real life? On the one hand, consumers claim to be worried about the level of ad personalization yet on the other hand, the number of consumers utilizing their social media accounts to login into websites continues to rise. Do consumers truly care about privacy or do they simply not fully understand the level of access they have just agreed to, often complicated by lengthy terms and conditions?

Though it may be tempting to rationalize that the end product or service justifies the divulging of such sensitive information (for instance, downloading an entertaining game or trying to avoid remembering yet another username and password), greater efforts must be made to respect the privacy of consumers. As market research continues to embrace technological tools such as big data analytics or social media listening, this has never been more pertinent.

Market research professionals should adopt a proactive approach regarding data privacy, with the aim of placating growing consumer concerns over the amount of information third parties collect about them. In order to sustainably leverage such technological developments in a morally sound manner, transparency is key to regaining the trust of skeptical consumers and respondents.