Would you trade data for convenience?

We live in a digital world today, and to make the most of the technologies that we have, data is critical.
18 July 2018

Airports, banks, hospitals – where would you trade data for convenience? Source: Shutterstock

We live in a world where data is generated at every step.

When you woke up this morning, your fitness band recorded the event and sent a bunch of data points to the app. If you maybe made some fresh juice, went for a run, took an Uber to the office, went to the clinic for a blood test, or did anything with any device connected to the internet, you created ‘personal’ data.

This data, arguably, contains sensitive information about you.

Your medical information, whether captured via your fitness band or at the clinic; your financial information, whether collected at a point of sale or on an app; or your geographical information, comprising of information about where you went, how long you stayed, and where you went next, all captured via a GPS chip on your wrist or a ride-hailing app on your phone, can all lead to potential problems if exposed to the others.

However, the truth is, if you want to enjoy a seamless, connected, convenient life that’s facilitated by technology, then you might need to trade some data for convenience.

“Not every company is ‘out to get you or use your data maliciously’. Some restaurants, retail shops, grocers, etc offer fantastic coupons and savings. You must weigh your privacy to your needs, wants, and budget,” Data Scientists Carla Gentry told TechHQ.

In fact, as the world gets more digital, consumers will find themselves constantly struggling with the question: Should I trade my data for a bit of convenience?

The fact is, so long as companies don’t use the data to manipulate users’ behaviors, and so long as they can keep the data they collect safe, there should be no objections or concerns in general.

Consider the UK Border, for example. If you have a new biometric ‘chipped’ passport, you can use the automated ePassport gates instead of having your passport checked by a Border Force officer. This means you can avoid the queues and get through passport control more quickly.

To help speed up passengers at passport control, there are now ePassport gates at all major airports in the UK.

ePassport gates are automated, where a passport reader and camera, rather than a border officer, verify resident’s identity and check their ‘chipped’ passport.

The gates use facial recognition technology to compare passengers’ faces to the photograph recorded on the ‘chip’ in their passports. Once the check is made successfully, the gate opens automatically.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security too, has processed travelers with facial recognition scans at many of its airports last year and will be rolling out the system nationwide soon.

Pilot studies in the US have shown that 400 passengers can be processed in as little as 22 minutes at some airports.

“For the government, the most important part is that this enhances the security,” said Isabel Hill, director of the National Travel & Tourism Office, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“We’re very excited about the possibility of transforming the travel experience,” she added quickly.

Soon, more airports around the world will use facial recognition for border control, to make the process more convenient. And other critical services will too. Like hospitals and universities.

Although strict regulation and control will be needed when handling the data, and severe penalities must be imposed on those that are careless with it, there are several reasons for consumers to get comfortable sharing data with companies for convenience and rich experiences.