Opinion makers are lining up to tell us how Facebook has really spoiled things with the next generation of digital natives. According to these opinion makers, this generation wants to be more than click fodder, as they value their privacy too much. Many, however, are missing the point: the click fodder does want to click, but is increasingly aware of the value of data, especially their own personal data.
Privacy is not a must
Anyone who thinks that the growing awareness of privacy is related to a generation that wants to protect itself more, has got the wrong end of the stick. Our millennials don’t want to be shielded, they actually have to be protected against themselves and their openness. What this new generation does want is to benefit from the use of their data. In their view, the value generated with their privacy should largely flow back to them, and not end up in the pockets of Facebook and Google.
Nobody wants to go back to the age of unsolicited spam and ugly banners with irrelevant offers. We still want our bargains, but don’t like being stalked. Everyone feels uncomfortable when, after checking out a pair of trainers in a couple of e-stores, they are accosted with banners for the same product everywhere they go online. It feels like a violation of privacy.
Privacy as a payment method?
However, if the underlying systems can exploit AI and machine learning to become smart enough to show the right offer at the right time, it would offer some benefit in exchange for giving up privacy. Privacy then becomes a kind of new crypto-currency that we will gladly trade with the companies chosen by us.
These will be companies which realise that the value of our data must be shared with us, preferably in the form of added value. In this way, companies will become natural champions of privacy, because your data and data about you that you only share with them (and that are not wasted), will acquire more value through the age-old system of supply and demand.
Here comes the European cloud …
The GDPR legislation could be a blessing instead of a curse for European companies, perhaps to such an extent that they can challenge the dominance of Silicon Valley. Here in Europe, we are more aware of privacy by nature.
When I see how our Belgian customers are struggling to get their houses in order with the GDPR, I see a lot of opportunities for a European data cloud that takes into account the importance of privacy from the outset. Privacy by default in practice.
Playing together is sharing together
However, it depends on companies learning to deal with privacy in a mature way. The aim of the GDPR legislation is not to make all data worthless, but to handle it carefully. Companies may still use personal data, but they must now have explicit consent to do so. Obtaining this consent will mainly depend on how much value people are willing to share.
Ultimately, the consequence will be that whoever seizes opportunities now, will acquire a better view of data, thanks to the GDPR. If the value of data is shared, both parties will also protect it better. Improving privacy doesn’t mean less shared data; quite the opposite. We will receive an influx of data traffic, with value creation for those who invest in it smartly. It means personal data will soon become even hotter than the Bitcoin.