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UK consumers would pay for control of their data

Byte-size Bulletin by Rachael Brown in Security, News on Oct 11, 2021



Which? (a non-profit, consumer champion) surveyed 4,000 Google and Facebook users and found that a majority of users would be prepared to pay just over £1 a month to stop internet giants from using their data for targeted ads.

Combined, this means UK users would be willing to pay £1.1bn a year.

Interestingly enough, the Which? Survey also revealed that 81% of UK consumers would be happy to receive targeted ads from companies like Google and Facebook in return for a small financial reward.

On average, these consumers said they would need to be paid just over £4 to agree to receive targeted ads, which across all internet users would cost companies over £4bn.

Rocio Concha, Which? Director of policy and advocacy commented that:
“Consumers should have the right to choose not to receive targeted adverts, with platforms having an obligation to provide their core service without collecting any data beyond that which is necessary for the performance of the contract with the user”

Which? Has repeatedly raised the issue of users lacking control over how their data is extracted and used by online platforms.

Concha on this subject argues that “The introduction of greater choice and control for individual users would not only empower consumers but would also stimulate competition in digital markets to ensure challenger businesses can compete viably with tech giants”.

“The government’s new Digital Markets Unit must be empowered to introduce remedies that promote competition and reduce consumer harm,” said Concha.

Which? wants the unit to have the power to compel the biggest online platforms to give consumers a simple and understandable choice to control how their data is used and collected.

While Google and Facebook do offer tools that allow customers to control the use of their data, they are often complicated to use and customers aren’t aware of them.

Furthermore, the companies do little to inform their users about the existence of these tools.

Google commented that:
“People want a web that can keep their information safe and private while also remaining thriving, pluralistic, and open. We are building tools and technologies to make this possible. Relevant adverts are much more likely to show consumers products and offer they want, and to help independent publishers and creators of all sizes to fund themselves. That’s why we are advancing the field of privacy-preserving technology in support of a future in which people can access ad-supported content with confidence that their privacy and choices are respected.”

A spokesperson for Facebook said:
“We offer a range of ways for people to control their ads experience through industry-leading tools such as Off-Facebook Activity that gives people more control over the information shared by other apps and websites. We aim to strike a balance between allowing businesses and organisations to show ads that are of genuine interest and value to people, while also making sure our global community feels comfortable.”

Photo by Agni B on Unsplash

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