Privacy a new currency: Marketers and big government two peas in the same pod?

Are you willing to exchange privacy for a safer homeland?  Are you willing to trade privacy for an enhanced consumer experience? “Big Data” is driving convergence of these two issues. The Walt Disney Company is implementing a new technology at its theme parks that allows Disney characters to interact with guest by talking to them and identifying them by name. These and other new experiences are driven by RF armbands that are loaded with “big data” files that enable park guests to experience levels of guest service and interaction that never before could be realized (


As ex-Disney, I’m always excited to see enhancements made to the guest experience, but as we move into a world that is more and more dominated by the use of “big data” and our concerns about how GO’s and NGO’s share big data the question must be asked, at what cost?(

This is an interesting dilemma for consumers, less privacy in exchange for greater personal experiences. In other words delivering great guest experience by relying on human behavior is expensive and risky while leveraging technology to deliver a similar albeit different personal experience requires significantly less investment, particularly when analyzed from an IRR perspective. The other component to this experience is the exchange of private information.

Government peddle security for an exchange of privacy, but even more seductive is the exchange of privacy for an enhanced personal experience. Interestingly enough, a federal court judge ruled this week that Google must turn over user information to the FBI without a warrant (

Aldous Huxley contrasted the story lines of Brave New World and !984 by stating that the tyranny envisioned in 1984 was inefficient because it relied upon coercive government, while the tyranny described in BNW was efficient because the citizenry embraced what it had to offer: security, efficiency and yes personalization/customization of experience. So who wants to have the parent that does not participate in the wristband program? Who wants to have a child confused and disappointed as Disney characters greet other children with personal messages? Seduction, peer pressure, or tyranny?

As an Internet Marketer data warehousing is critical. Identifying personas and leveraging retargeting techniques is critical to our market plans. Where, and how do we draw lines for acceptable business practices?

For a timeless read on this subject try:
The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us To Choose Between Privacy And Freedom? by Brin, David (May 7, 1999)


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