Part 1: Everything You Wanted to Know About Data Privacy But Were Afraid to Ask
TRU Staffing Partners May 12, 2022 at 6:15 AM
Recently, TRU Staffing Partners Founder and CEO Jared Coseglia was featured on The Art Lewis Show, a talk-radio program that is part of the WSGW Morning Team in Saginaw, Michigan. Art Lewis has been a radio personality for more than four decades, doing talk shows as far back as 1965. On this broadcast, Coseglia and Lewis sat down to discuss data brokers, data security, online privacy, and what all of it means to the average consumer.
The lively Q&A covered the billion-dollar industry of data brokering and why it is such a polarizing topic for people. Coseglia started the discussion by noting the difference between data security and data privacy. The average person does not commonly differentiate these subjects. Security is about keeping that data protected, or keeping that data from falling into the hands of hackers. However, data privacy is much more nuanced and complex. Data privacy is a less regulated industry at state, federal, and global levels. As a result of that lack of regulation, an ecosystem has developed that allows people to buy and sell consumer data in a variety of different venues in order to monetize their businesses.
Coseglia noted that the entire marketing industry has changed dramatically over the years. We have gone from seeing the same ad on the side of a bus 25 times in a month to companies buying personal data to find out who consumers are, what they want, and how to get directly to them to sell that message.
Art Lewis: So, there is actually an industry that brokers data?
Jared Coseglia: It’s a billion dollar industry that does just that.
AL: So when I accept cookies online, it gives them the right to track me and my buying habits?
JC: The real question is then: Who are they? In one instance, it could be Google or in the next instance Google could then distribute your data to dozens if not hundreds of other third- or fourth-party service providers. They use, aggregate, and anonymize data and then claim it doesn’t lead back to individual consumers. However, there are a variety of ways you offer up your data when you approve cookies.
AL: If I am interested in a product, I may go to the XYZ website and look at a widget. I may look at it a while, but don’t buy it. The next day when I open an internet browser, I see ad boxes all over the browser site along with that widget I looked at briefly. Every day this happens, for a long time. Is that a result of data brokering?
JC: That is 100% why you are seeing that. I’m a big gardening guy. In my spare time, I like to buy bulbs and flowers online. Now, because all the sites I’ve given cookie approvals to have distributed my data, I get all the bulb and flower ads as far as the eye can see on the internet. Yes, that’s exactly why you see that. What’s important for consumers to understand, and participate in, is by visiting a website or going to a local shopping mall, companies are tracking your data. Consumers need to know what happens next – what are companies’ policies around the collection and use (selling or distributing) of personal data from any purchases made. And what is done with that data.
AL: What’s interesting, too, is that this not a perfect system. They don’t know if I bought that widget and they might be trying to sell me 100 more. Or, they have no way of knowing if I didn’t really want it. Either way, I’m still getting bombarded with widget ads.
JC: Correct – because they are profiling your identity. They may not be profiling you specifically, but rather people that are like you and they place you into buckets of identifiable groups of people that like to buy this particular widget. So, an algorithm somewhere in an AI program out there is directing the advertising to show you this widget
AL: I have to believe that it works. The reason I say that is it wouldn’t be there if it didn’t. Someone must be buying that widget when they see it after the 40th time.
JC: Well, Google and Facebook wouldn’t be two of the biggest companies in the world if its wasn’t working because that’s how most of their revenue is derived. Their revenue is created from online advertising. That advertising is paid for with a premium because it is coupled with an acute intelligent analysis of individual user data in order to target marketing for people who are more likely to buy your product.
AL: So, correct me if I’m wrong then: These data brokers with nothing more than a computer can go into business and thrive.
JC: The thing that really has to happen here is that the lawmakers need to create federal legislation to help regulate the use of data. Right now in the US, we see data privacy as a consumer right. As buyers of products, we have the right to know what companies are doing with our consumer data. But in Europe or Brazil and other areas of the world, privacy is considered a human right. And because it is a human right, the ownership of the data aggregates by the individual is owned by the user. That’s not the case in the US. As a result, companies who are US-based and do business elsewhere are weaponizing the ability to use data without oversight at a federal level in order to monetize their businesses to the nth degree. Under this administration, we are unlikely to see legislation on this matter, even in the next administration. It doesn’t matter which political party is in office. It’s now a wild west environment that is using private data to monetize businesses and it’s likely to continue for another four to 10 years.
AL: Do I have the tools to be able to sat NO to any of these data tactics?
JC: Yes. As a result of Apple’s changing their policies in their iOS rollout (version 14 or 15), consumers have a lot more control over blocking apps from aggregating and collecting data. But the education to the consumer has not been sufficient for everyone who owns an iPhone to know how to create the setting patterns to block the release of data. Part of the cornerstone of good data privacy is simplicity and transparency. Companies that are choosing to be simpler and more transparent about their privacy policies are actually capturing and retaining more customers because privacy leads to trust. Trust is the greatest commodity a business can have right now in order to retain and grow their customer base.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this interview next week! Be sure not to miss the post by signing up for instant notifications here: