Friday, September 7, 2007

Privacy (or lack of it) in the Future

I'm a sucker for a good futurist. Isn't it fun to theorize about what our world will look like in 10, 15, 100+ years? I truly enjoy hearing expert takes on the future of marketing, the future of commerce, etc., etc.

That's why I was pleased to see this commentary on one man's vision of the future of consumer privacy. From DM News, check out this article written by Robert Gellman (a privacy consultant out of Washington DC), titled: "Looking out for data surveillance predictions for 2020."

Some of Gellman's predictions are fairly predictable--i.e.: that we'll be a cashless society and that all transactions will be electronic (he calls this a "penniless marketplace"--thought that was cute).

Other predictions are a tad more dire. For example, he predicts that every auto will be equipped with a tracking device which will, for example, not allow pedophiles to go near schools. This device will also record where we go and be able to issue tickets when we break a traffic rule... Interesting.

And, here's what he thinks about computing: "Very personalized PC. Every computer will have a static IP address. No one will be able to operate a computer without registering through a token, fingerprint or other identification device. All e-mail will be stored permanently, and records of other network activity, including searching and transactions, will also be retained. Stolen computers will be a hot black market item for criminals who will use them to avoid accountability for online actions."

And, of course, he has a take on direct marketing: "Direct marketing activities will be positively affected by the availability of more personal information. However, public aversion to spam, telephone calls and postal mail will make it harder to exploit the information by traditional means. Many free Internet services will remain free only to those who do not block ads."

I believe that the future of direct marketing will include a complete trend toward opt-in (it's already heading in that direction). Consumers, now empowered by their ability to get the information they need on their own, seek out companies to serve them. They look for what they want and then they buy what they want. It will get tougher and tougher to get consumers to respond to unsolicited marketing messages.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the future, be it marketing, privacy, whatever.

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