Personalisation doesn't have to be creepy: Phair

By on
Personalisation doesn't have to be creepy: Phair

New report discusses big data and privacy.

Personalisation will be the customer service of the 21st century, if done correctly, according to a report from the University of Canberra’s Centre for Internet Safety.

The research paper, written by security specialists Alastair MacGibbon and Nigel Phair, provides advice to companies seeking to use big data to deliver personalised products and pricing.

Phair said while many companies had vendors pitching big data solutions to them, few had worked out how to harness the opportunity with privacy in mind.

“I don’t think they’ve really looked at how they can benefit from big data and the internet of things to tailor a more personalised service to people without it being spooky and creepy,” Phair said.

The report comes after the British Office of Fair Trading launched an investigation into personalised pricing, to address concerns that businesses were using individuals’ web browsing data to modify their prices.

“If you’re an online company, you’ve got no choice but to do these things,” Phair said. However he added that informed consent, not just asking people to “check a box”, was critical.

“A lot of consumers haven’t got a clue about what data is out there that companies are using to personalise services… the main one being geo-location data.”

The University of Canberra paper sets out some key questions Phair and MacGibbon argue every business must ask themselves. Does the customer:

  • know what data is being collected?
  • know what the data will be used for?
  • know who will have access to it?
  • give consent - informed consent - for it’s collection?
  • have the ability to opt out of such data collection and still be able to use the service?

Phair said the next phase of personalisation would involve facial recognition, and devices like Google Glass, raising new privacy issues.

"My fear is Google Glass and other manufacturers retro-designing it and coming up with their own camera in glass where you don’t know when it's on, or where."

Got a news tip for our journalists? Share it with us anonymously here.
Copyright © . All rights reserved.

Most Read Articles

Log In

  |  Forgot your password?