End users are beginning to tire of their personal data being collected online by the increasing range of applications and analytics offerings, according to global research by market watcher Ovum.
Mark Little, principal analyst at Ovum, predicted a rocky road ahead for the internet economy as a result.
"Unfortunately, in the gold rush that is big data, taking the supply of 'little data' – personal data – for granted seems to be an accident waiting to happen," Little said. "Consumers are being empowered with new tools and services to monitor, control and secure their personal data as never before, and it seems they increasingly have the motivation to use them."
Ovum believes that two thirds of consumers may have begun to say no to being tracked online – one way or another. This could also cause problems for businesses increasingly required to monitor and manage all data that passes through their systems, not to mention marketing teams and so on.
The claims are based on Ovum's new Consumer Insights Snapshot, a 40-question poll which found that 68 per cent of 11,000 internet users surveyed across 11 countries would select a "do not track" feature if one is available.
Only 14 per cent of respondents said they believe digital companies are honest about their use of consumers' personal data.
According to Ovum, people are increasingly seeking out new tools that allow them to cover their tracks online, and become untraceable and impossible to target by data means.
Data privacy scandals such as WhatsApp's use of address books, LinkedIn's hack and exposure of users, as well as Facebook's and Google's data use and privacy policies, have fuelled consumer concerns, the market watcher said, and these worries may not easily be allayed.
This hardening of consumer attitudes, coupled with tightening regulation, could diminish personal data supply lines and have a "considerable impact" on targeted advertising, CRM, big data analytics, and other digital sectors.
However, improving the transparency of data collection and use will help to build trust, a commodity that will increasingly become a sustainable competitive advantage, Little added.
"Internet companies need a new set of messages to change consumers' attitudes. These messages must be based on positive direct relationships, engagement with consumers, and the provision of genuine and trustworthy privacy controls," Little said.
"Most importantly, data controllers need a better feel for the approaching disruption to their supply lines, and must invest in tools that help them understand the profile of today's negatively minded users: tomorrow's invisible consumers."
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