“I think most people have no idea that [this data] is being collected and sold and that it is personally identifiable… It is a profile of them… Consumers don’t know who the data brokers are. They don’t know the names of these companies” FTC commissioner Julie Brill (CBSNews.com, 9 March 2014).

“We have seen an evolution of our culture towards more exhibitionism, we have also seen people become less comfortable with excessive information in display. This tension will be central in the next decade.” Prof. Henry Jenkins, University of South Carolina (BBC News Technology, How much lifelogging could you tolerate?)

“One could imagine a service that would say ‘For the next three hours, I don’t want my name to be displayed on social networks” Dennis Crowley, CEO of Foursquare (NYTimes blog, October 14, 2012)


Description

Today’s current society is politically and economically unstable on top of being obsessed with progress and fueled by change. This context is raising an atmosphere of stress and uncertainty that makes people live with a feeling of vulnerability.

The whole world seems unsafe and risky, so consumers look for positive ways to regain control of their lives, to protect themselves and their loved ones.

On top of that, the escalating environmental pollution impacts both the quality of health and life. Consumers have become more concerned than ever with the way they live, eat, and relax as media provides little consistency in recommended safe strategies. The whole world seems unsafe and risky, so consumers look for positive ways to regain control of their lives, to protect themselves and their loved ones. As people feel that life is increasingly precious, public movement around this sentiment has led to escalating levels of legislation. Road safety and tobacco are already highly regulated, and now alcohol and food seem to be heading the same direction, as society tries to increase the general length and quality of life. In parallel, over time, individuals have not only become able to better understand their effect on their environment, but they have also become able to better control them and to better protect themselves. They are on the lookout for total control of property, time, safety and wellbeing, from security alerts to technological transformations, to medical miracles and must-have time savers. As a result, not only are they expecting from brands to deliver products and services that help them gain more control over their lives, but they are also being empowered by technology advancements to guard, secure and protect their homes and their loved ones. China may be the country that is most concerned by this. Alarmed by health scandals and lax regulatory oversight, China’s rising middle-class consumers accept the burden of being their own watchdogs for quality goods and are eager to spend their money on things made anywhere but in China.

Privacy & online anonymity

One of the hottest topics in debate today is the protection of privacy and the development of a secure information society. According to TRUSTe’s 2013 consumer confidence index, 89% of Americans are concerned about online privacy. The ‘Snowden affair’ has recently reinforced people’s distrust over the use of their personal data. Consumers are confused about the way their details are used for marketing purposes, there’s a disconnect between the type of personal details that brands collect and the pieces of information they say they are willing to share. In a 2013 survey of cell phone or tablet users aged 12-17, published in MediaPost.com, 58% said they had downloaded apps to their devices. But 51% of that group said they decided against downloading an app after learning that it would gather personal information, and 26% have uninstalled apps over privacy concerns. As a result, they expect both public and private sectors to stimulate the deployment of security-enhancing products, processes and services to prevent and fight ID theft and other privacy-intrusive attacks. Books like Julia Angwin’s Dragnet Nation, one consumer’s attempt to fight back against online surveillance, and Dave Eggers’ The Circle, about a fictional society beseeched by a leading social network to reveal everything online so as to prove it has nothing to hide, as well as a The New York Time’s piece on data-based marketing techniques, have also helped to raise consumer consciousness regarding the privacy debate spurred by the trade-off (personal info in exchange for free apps and content) that’s inherent to internet use in 2015.

In a 2013 survey of cell phone or tablet users aged 12-17, published in MediaPost.com, 58% said they had downloaded apps to their devices. But 51% of that group said they decided against downloading an app after learning that it would gather personal information, and 26% have uninstalled apps over privacy concerns.

With the rise of social networks, all the identities have been exposed, and people have been logging or registering their daily life with technological tools and services (also called “lifelogging”), turning these platforms into personal brand building tools, marketing platforms for advertisers, and powerful communication channels. After years of “extimacy” and “oversharing”, online users are giving increasing value to anonymity: “Incognito is the new chic”, said fashion designer Phoebe Philo. Being off the web (being “ingoogle-able”) is a new way to distinguish oneself from the crowd. 86% of online users have removed or hidden their digital presence, by either simply deleting cookies or encrypting emails (2013 Pew Internet Survey). The topic has also been addressed by the artistic and fashion scenes, from the ‘Faceless’ exhibition in Vienna last year to faceless models on the catwalk for fashion designers Scott James (SS2013), Maison Martin Margiela, Craig Green (AW 2013) and Givenchy (SS 2014).

Self-tracking

With so much personalized data available at the click of a button, a culture of self-control and self-acquired expertise is empowering global consumers to make on-the-spot decisions. In so many areas, a flow of freely available and easily digestible data is allowing anyone to scrutinise — with relatively minimal effort — the impact and efficiency of his or her daily endeavours.

Particularly as smartphone penetration soars throughout the 10s, the amount of instant information available at consumers’ fingertips is set to become colossal — and highly personal and purposefully packaged too.

With the precise delivery of real-time results, health can be monitored, eco-behaviour tracked, and household expenditure managed. Environmental causes, language skills, smoking cessation, home organization, workplace productivity — pretty much anything that requires the monitoring of real-world habits could benefit from a behavior-tracking app. Particularly as smartphone penetration soars throughout the 10s, the amount of instant information available at consumers’ fingertips is set to become colossal — highly personal and purposefully packaged too. More, the invitation to exercise personal control over a growing number of areas means that ever fewer people will be unaware of just how many calories are contained in their bowl of miso soup, how many centavos it costs to run an appliance, even how much a stressful journey on the subway affects their blood pressure. Anyone can play the expert now. What’s more, artificial Intelligence in the form of a perpetual life coach will live at the information level, providing guidance on every aspect of the day. Self-tracking technology will likely manifest itself in a reverse Siri interface, with a GPS-like voice guiding people on issues both personal and macro.

Featured examples

 

CitizenMe

Credit: Citizenme.com

Credit: Citizenme.com

UK start-up CitizenMe believes that anyone has the right to benefit from one’s data contribution, to determine one’s online privacy and control one’s digital identity. Their app allows users to centrally manage their social media profiles by alerting users to the terms of service used by online companies and social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It gives other popular apps ratings for their data management; flagging any potentially controversial behavior such as last-minute changes to terms of service or copyright claims to personal content. CitizenMe also uses an algorithm to make character assessments based on the type of language used in social media posts. Users receive a rating informing them whether their social media persona is conservative or liberal, organised or spontaneous, calm or stressed, outgoing or reserved.
United-Kingdom United Kingdom, July 2014

 

eTag by Air France-KLM

Air France-KLM has spent the past year developing digital luggage tags, hoping to improve security and convenience for frequent flyers and eliminate the common concern of lost bags for all travellers. The airline has developed the eTag, a permanent luggage tag placed on the outside of baggage. It can be attached at home, and once the correct flight information has been input, the luggage only needs to be loaded onto the flight, not checked in by the airline. It has also created the eTrack, that is put inside the luggage, and uses GSM, GPS and Bluetooth to make a bag’s location traceable anywhere in the world, even potentially by a smartphone. The devices communicate with one another via Bluetooth, but they can be used separately. It is expected that passengers will be able to attach them to their luggage by late 2014, though it is not yet clear how much either device will cost.
France France, May 2014

 

PubLock

publock

Credit: Publock.com

PubLock is a solution to theft and incorrect use of personal bike locking systems. As a public bike locking system, it removes the expense of purchasing U-Locks or chain locks and eliminates the possibility of not securing the bike properly. PubLock tackles a financial matter, but its main strength is its simplicity. A cyclist simply rolls the bike up to an available rack and aligns the frame with the rack. He then grabs the handle, pulls out the chain and inserts it in the locking bit. The handle is held in place by a magnet but does not lock until the owner uses a personal RFID card to “wake the lock up and activate our electronics.” Once secured, the handle cannot be pulled out by another RFID except the one used to lock it, Polin explains.
United States of America United States, April 2014

 

Inocente Inocente

inocente-inocente

Credit: Playgoogle.com

Inocente Inocente is a Spanish app aiming to prevent kids’ accidents in the home and bring peace of mind to their parents. Both parents and children play the same game: they must answer a series of questions about danger prevention. As they answer correctly to questions, kids can navigate through precarious household items and scenarios in order to move up to the next level. In doing so, both older and younger users can learn how to avoid risks and have a good time playing altogether.
Spain Spain, May 2014

 

Undercover Colors

undercover-colors

Credit: Undercovercolors’ Facebok page

Four undergraduate engineering students have banded together to create a nail polish that changes color when it comes into contact with drugs such as Rohypnol, Xanax, and GHB as a way for women to prevent potential date rape. Thinking about big problems in society, the creators found the topic of drug-facilitated sexual assault was relevant. This is how the idea of creating a nail polish that detects date rape drugs was born. The “Undercover Colors” project is still in development and the four students are currently raising funds to perfect their formula.
United States of America United States, August 2014

 

Data Vaporizer

Play video

In a virtual age where one’s personal data is routinely bought and sold, the movement of data is surprisingly invisible as no one sees where their data goes. Data Vaporizer imagines how people and their technologies might react to a future world where data sharing is pervasive, constant, and perhaps out of control because of wearables. The Data Vaporizer is a backpack that protects its owner by visibly vaporizing anyone else’s data before they can get to the owner’s data. The backpack includes an ‘inhaler’ device that attaches to the user’s hand and triggers it either when someone gets too close to the inhaler’s proximity sensor or when the user breathes into it. In this way, it creates a protective space where data thieves would be afraid to steal data for fear that their own data would be destroyed.
South-Korea Korea, June 2014

 

Facial recognition glasses

Play video

A new pair of glasses – under development by Japan’s National Institute of Informatics last year – aims to prevent facial recognition by cameras. The objective is to avoid photos being taken without people’s knowledge and posted online, along with metadata including the time and location, which violates privacy. Where previous methods were physically hiding the face, this technology can protect privacy without obstructing communication, as all users need to do is wear a pair of glasses.
Japan Japan, June 2013

 

Business & Marketing guidelines

1

Make sure your customers are comfortable with being tracked and are happy with their rewards.

2

Draw a fine line between tracking that creates customer benefits and customer privacy. If you collect data without offering value, you will likely see substantial consumer defections and possibly public controversy.

3

Inform customers when downloading an app will allow the business to track them. It’s not just good business to be trustworthy and practice transparency; In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission will soon institute stricter disclosure rules requiring businesses to display tracking disclosures prominently.

Summary

  • The whole world seems unsafe and risky, so consumers look for positive ways to regain control over their lives to protect themselves and their loved ones.
  • In a 2013 survey of cell phone or tablet users aged 12-17, 58% said they had downloaded apps to their devices. But 51% of that group said they decided against downloading an app after learning that it would gather personal information, and 26% have uninstalled apps over privacy concerns.
  • One of the hottest topics in debate today is the protection of privacy and development of a secure information society.
  • After years of “extimacy” and “oversharing”, online users are turning to anonymity.
  • A culture of self-control and self-acquired expertise is empowering global consumers to make on-the-spot decisions. A flow of freely available and easily digestible data is allowing anyone to scrutinise – with relatively minimal effort – the impact and efficiency of his or her daily endeavours.

Experts that we recommend

monique-dagnaud Monique Dagnaud
French media and youth culture sociologist & author of book Génération Y, les jeunes et les réseaux sociaux: de la dérision à la subversion (Presses de Science Po, 2013)
jean-marc-manach Jean-Marc Manach
French journalist & online privacy specialist & author of book Au pays de Candy, enquête sur les marchands d’armes de surveillance numérique (OWNI, 2012)
fabien-benoit Fabien Benoit
French journalist at France Inter & at Usbek & Rica; author of book Facebook expliqué aux vieux (10/18, 2013)
antoinette-rouvroy Antoinette Rouvroy
French sociologist & Algorithmic governmentality specialist, co-author of Gouvernementalité algorithmique et perspectives d’émancipation (Réseaux, 2013)
cynthia-fleury Cynthia Fleury
French philosophy teacher at American University of Paris, researcher at National History Museum & co-author of book L’Exigence de la réconciliation. Biodiversité et société (Fayard, 2012)
henri-verdier Henri Verdier
Chief data officer of France