Issues about online privacy are not going away and according to a report by Forrester Research, we're headed for the tipping point in online privacy issues in 2016. Regulators are cracking down on companies, and consumers are requiring better protection of their privacy and are less willing to part with their information.
We can all agree that privacy will be a game changer next year—here are some of Forrester's most crucial predictions:
We will pay for fewer ads and get a lot more privacy
In the coming year, internet companies will begin providing paid ad-free subscription services that would give users much more privacy. Google has already started moving in this direction—beta testing replacements to monetizing user data via targeted ads. It created Google Contributor, which lets users pay $2-10 a month to see 5-50 percent fewer ads on the sites the visit across different browsers and devices.
Forrester analyst, Fatemeh Khatibloo, says that if Google Contributor takes off it could cause a significant shift.
"If we are paying Google for a service, it turns us from users in to customers and that means we can easily hold Google a lot more accountable."
Surge in ad-blocking programs
Ad-blocking programs aren't new—26 percent of U.S. adults who use a desktop or laptop also us an ad blocker in their browsers.
Forrester suggests that we re-examine the trackers and cookies deployed on the websites we frequent so that we can determine whether we're comfortable with the amount of information the company is collecting. The truth is that an overwhelmingly large part of the population is unaware of how much can be collected during our everyday internet surfing. The good news, however, is that we're becoming more educated forcing companies to respond with innovation.
"If advertisers and publishers can't fix the ad ecosystem, ad-blocker adoption will continue to grow and dramatically reduce the effectiveness of the behavioral advertising revenue model," the report said.
More regulation and harsher penalties for privacy violations
In early 2016, the European Union is expected to approve data protection regulations that would make companies liable for up to 5 percent of global revenues if the violate the law. An in the U.S., companies can expect severe penalties too.
We've mostly heard about tech giants slapped with fees, but media and telecommunications companies will also deal with harsher penalties, as well as the health care industry. New companies developing devices connecting to the Internet of Things and others alike will need to take greater security protections.
"Breaches are often the result of poor employee habits: leaving a laptop unlocked or taking files home on an unapproved thumb drive, for example," said Khatibloo.
Security of information and transparency about what is collected will play major roles in our lives moving forward.
Mobile wallet will give merchants less information on customers
More consumers will move toward mobile payment systems like PayPal, Apple Pay and Android Pay, which will give merchants less information than traditional credit card payment processing. In fact, Forrester estimates that Americans will spend $83 billion in mobile payments in 2016. This means that merchants will manage relatively anonymous customer transactions and find new ways to collect customer data.
California will continue to make strides in privacy protections
Laws signed by California Governor Jerry Brown will go into effect in 2016 that will require authorities to obtain a warrant or court order for access to an individual's electronic communications, and will toughen and expand data-breach notification regulations.
Because California is the most populous U.S. state—residents represent 8 percent of domestic personal consumption spending—and it's expensive to maintain two different sets of data management rules, we might see the benefits of these laws in all states.
So as we head into 2016 what can we do to be prepared for some of these changes and take better control of our privacy?
Well, we've already talked about some of Forrester's suggestions like:
- Checking out trackers and cookies to determine how much information you are comfortable with others collecting
- Enabling or downloading ad-blockers
- Consider using a mobile payment system that will prevent merchants from collecting very much data about you
But is there a way to take greater control over our privacy similarly to the way signing up for a credit monitoring service can allow you to proactively guard against identity theft?
There is and it's called Privacy Now from Identity Guard.
Privacy Now is a completely free service that assess your online risk profile. By answering a short set of questions, Privacy Now provides you with personalized recommendations to better guard your privacy and minimize your risks of fraud. Once you've finished the survey you'll get access to the tools you need to actively monitor and manage threats to your data with a customized dashboard. Privacy Now also sends you essential alerts to notify you of when your level of risk changes.
The future of personal data security is here and it is Privacy Now. In less than 10 minutes you can take control of your information and be confident everywhere you go—whether you're at the bank, out shopping, or sharing on social media. Get your free risk profile here.