Safety and Security

Privacy Concerns Spark Fresh Moves In Digital World

Privacy Concerns Spark Moves In Digital World

The push to offer more online privacy to increasingly concerned consumers continues.

This time, it’s a move from Google, but it’s unclear how far these efforts will really go, and whether they will have a major impact anytime soon on consumer perceptions of online trust — one of the biggest ongoing issues in payments and commerce.

Here’s the latest: Google said it wants to limit how marketers and advertisers track people online, according to a report. The company is proposing a change to how cookies work in its web browser, Chrome, which would make it easier for users to block the tracking. This could mean that eventually a user would be able to have a little more control over how they are tracked on the internet.

Google mentioned the idea of a “Privacy Sandbox,” which would let someone do some personalization on the web while keeping their privacy protected.

New Tools

That’s only the latest such move in recent days from companies that make up so-called Big Tech. Facebook announced it has launched a new privacy tool so users can prevent their information from being sent to the site for targeted advertising. The new tool, called Off-Facebook Activity, will allow users to see a summary of the apps and websites that send Facebook information about their activity, and clear this information from the account.

“This is another way to give people more transparency and control on Facebook, along with recent updates to our Ad Library, updates to ‘Why am I seeing this ad?’ and the launch of a new feature called ‘Why am I seeing this post?’” the company wrote in a press release.

There are limits, though. Facebook said it will not be deleting that data from its servers completely, even if users opt out. In fact, the company will continue to collect data to provide third parties with analytics, but the information won’t be linked to a specific account.

IoT Concerns

These recent moves to assuage consumers — at least a bit more — about their online privacy is part of a much bigger issue, one that involves the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), as recent PYMNTS research has documented.

Consider the growing use of wearables and other digital and mobile technology in the consumer healthcare space. While IoT has become a valuable tool in the healthcare industry, customers have ample reason to be concerned about the safety of their personal information.

According to Linh Le, founder and CEO of IoT healthcare company Bonbouton, which offers a connected shoe insole to help diabetic users track their foot health, simple data security isn’t the end of the story for the healthcare industry. There also needs to be a mutual trust between the company and the customer.

The stakes are pretty high — according to PYMNTS data, the expected value of the IoT market will hit some $1.2 trillion by 2022.

As that growth happens, politicians and the public are taking greater notice of the privacy and security concerns. The U.S. Congress is considering legislation to meet the growing security concerns around IoT by introducing a bill that mandates a continually updated list of best security practices for government-issued IoT devices. Another recently introduced piece of legislation aims to protect individuals by regulating facial-recognition cameras.

Beyond the political and regulatory spheres, other companies are trying to gain an edge by responding to the changing desires among some consumers for more online and mobile privacy.

DuckDuckGo, the no-tracking search engine with a name that reflects a childhood play activity, intends to make the most of the ongoing privacy backlash from consumers. It has raised at least $10 million in fresh capital — only the second funding round for the 10-year-old, Pennsylvania-based operation — and has plans to better promote itself to a global audience, while also offering other privacy-protection technology. It does not sell search data to third parties for advertising (which, of course, cuts out a lucrative source of revenue). The search engine does not store users’ search histories, either.

That search engine will never come close to matching the scope of Google, but it does show how privacy concerns are sparking some innovation and moves in the wider market.

Expect more in the months and years to come.



The September 2020 Leveraging The Digital Banking Shift Study, PYMNTS examines consumers’ growing use of online and mobile tools to open and manage accounts as well as the factors that are paramount in building and maintaining trust in the current economic environment. The report is based on a survey of nearly 2,200 account-holding U.S. consumers.