Be afraid, its Data Protection Day

Today, and every 28th January for the last eight years, we celebrate Data Protection, or Privacy if you are in North America, Day. Celebrating may be a strange term to raise awareness of one of the great threats of our times, but the press release about the threat made interesting reading.

It seems we are stuck between the rock of regulation and responsibility and the hard place of wondering whether our identity has been hacked this morning. Add to this worry the fact that most internet users do not know what, and how much data is collected about them. This according to a survey of 12,000 people across the world, carried out by Microsoft.

There are some things in the release that we did not know. For instance, any site such as Facebook, Twitter or Google + that sports ‘like’ or ‘+’ buttons will track your journey whether you click them or not. For instance, it says, cookies are good and bad. They are good because they can make your journey through regular web sites easier and more intuitive, they are bad because advertisers on those sites can use them too. They are really bad because they can influence and rate how good a customer you are, and change the price accordingly. It is not much of a reach, given this, that ‘insurance companies might eventually string your data together to determine if you’re insurable (and what kind of premium you should be charged based on your perceived risk) and credit card companies could use it to determine your creditworthiness (and charge you higher interest).’

There are, of course, things we can do, particularly about hacking, but also about how much information we are prepared to give to sites and we are encouraged to be more vigilant. Although it is time consuming, says the Internet Society, you would not leave your house for any length of time without locking the windows and doors. Which is a good point.

A serious question is that now the horse of personal data has bolted, will any initiative such as President Obama’s proposed Bill of Privacy Rights have any effect. Probably not, given the extraordinary amount of data that is being syphoned off and sieved by almost every site, every day.

Mobile, of course, is a relatively new channel and is a real target for fraudsters. In 2014, fraud in m-commerce increased 70 percent, to 1.36 percent, according to this article by Mobile Payments Today. That may not sound significant, but in a market that will be worth $130 billion within five years, that amounts to something that needs to be addressed, particularly as m-commerce merchants use more payment methods than other merchants.

Fraud is part of our lives. We have probably all been hacked. We should be more careful, for sure, but this is also an opportunity for operators. Being a trusted partner in an uncertain digital world must be compelling. Password management, authentication and wallet management are all services that operators could provide, transforming them into trusted partners. That way lies reduced churn and increased loyalty and the revenue opportunities via Direct Operator Billing as a safe and simple payment method are certainly not to be ignored.

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About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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