Perhaps the most threatening area of privacy management from a company’s point of view is when they engage in profiling. Not only does this practice lend itself to potentially legal implications but it can also quickly discourage existing or would-be clients from participating in future business with the company. Understandably, almost all companies are concerned about the bottom line. Having to constantly monitor how far you can push the profiling envelope is a slippery slope. With what you might be able to get away with in early stages can easily lead to costly litigations that might even bankrupt your company.
Even if you’re able to maintain a level of profiling that is lawful, your practice, if discovered by your clientele, may be viewed as unethical or downright invading. As stated in Smith’s article “Information Privacy and its Management”, 94% of American consumers in 1999 said that they were either “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the possible misuses of their information. Knowing this, many companies have decided to keep their profiling techniques as quiet as possible so as to keep the consumer unaware of otherwise shameful actions.
But what is a consumer to do? Many ways of extracting personal information from consumers comes from the convenience that the company has to offer. When you visit the supermarket, you have a few options at the cash register. First, you could simply pay the “regular” price for all the goods that you brought to the counter and be on your way. Second, you could spend the time to cut out the weekly mailing coupons or perhaps print them out on your computer prior to even visiting the supermarket in order to take advantage of the best deals. However, the final option of entering your personal id, which is linked with other key pieces of personal information, at the counter is the fastest and easiest way to save money.
Personally, I have no problem, at first glance, with firms that legitimately use private...