People Don't Care About Privacy. Until They Do.

privacy Apr 07, 2021

Like most businesses, we are all dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 virus.  You and I are challenged with the task of running a business during lockdown and trying to work out how to emerge from the restrictions and recover.

A topic close to the heart of the hospitality industry these days is the idea of the "COVID Passport", which the government plans to use to "enable" a return to normal society.

It appears to be a reasonable idea although it turns out the concept of a passport is a hot topic of conversation.  You see, amongst other things, there are data protection and privacy issues.  Such a passport may be used to deny services to people.  It may be used to isolate people.  It may be forged and used fraudulently.  The storage of personal data it would demand (it would need a very big database linking up to other items of personal data about you as an individual) presents a significant risk to your future personal privacy.

Recent surveys suggest that the general public don't care about privacy issues.  They would rather have a return to life as they knew it before COVID.  Risks to their personal data are viewed by many as insignificant.  People want what people want.  To get what they want, they don't care about the privacy of their personal data.  It's a sacrifice the public are prepared to make.  "We don't care about privacy".

Until of course something bad happens to their own personal data.  Then, as individuals, they DO care.  And they care deeply.

I'll leave the argument to the politicians and interested parties to sort out.  Getting people back to whatever normal is and enabling society is a complex and challenging task.

But I'll ask you to think about this - and think about it carefully.  The issue is that people won't care about their privacy as they seek to accelerate a return to a pleasureable life.

This is a temporary state of affairs.  They won't care about their personal privacy until they have been to the hairdresser then sat down in a pub amongst a group of friends, with a glass of chilled Chardonnay in their hand.  If not caring about privacy gets you what you want, the temporary fix of that seat in the pub and the drink in your hand, then you won't care about your own privacy in order to get it.

Until that privacy is compromised.

Big databases are fat, juicy targets for criminals.  The personal data they contain can be used to target you and cause you harm.  The kind of personal data these criminals use is the kind that causes you embarrassment, can be used to bully you, to defraud you, to make you vulnerable.  When personal data is compromised, when personal wellbeing is put at risk and the threat of harm looms large - people all of a sudden care about privacy and will demand to know what it wasn't built in to the COVID passport system in the first place (of course, there will be the usual legion of lawyers standing by to place that very thought in their mind and support their legal claims for compensation).

The day this happens to you, the day your own personal data is compromised, you WILL care about your personal privacy.

And on that day, who are you going to blame?


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