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Cultivating Trust Within the Digital Economy

The rapid growth of the digital economy has accelerated the free flow of sensitive data across the internet and a growing number of connected devices, often outpacing measures in place to protect that information and educate users around the use of their data by advertisers, governments, brands, and institutions. Only a relatively small portion of the public say they understand what is being done with the information collected about them and their identities, and even fewer feel confident in their ability to competently protect their digital privacy; while at the same time, more and more consumers are leaving traces of their activities, preferences, and personal information online. As individuals continue to trade personally identifiable information such as location metadata, online history, and biometric information for convenience and simplicity across the growing online ecosystem, there is an opportunity for companies and brands to provide users with safeguards, transparency, education, and protocols that address these privacy concerns, while also offering proactive solutions for digital security.

Digital literacy and online safety education are becoming more prevalent, with data privacy and security now a baseline expectation for consumers, removing the need for consumers to dig through their settings and opt-in to protecting their own information. As individuals become more knowledgeable about their place in the online world, the balance of power between companies and consumers within the data economy is beginning to shift. Changes to privacy laws have led to an emerging personal data market where consumers pay for privacy, and companies, institutions, and other organizations in turn pay or reward users for access to their personal data are starting to emerge. Personal APIs and encrypted access protocols are inverting the traditional relationship between user, user data, and provider by putting privacy control back in the consumers’ hands, giving them the ability to pick and choose both the degree and type of access third parties and organizations are granted to their personal information. Web 3.0 technologies like blockchain, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are also proving to be useful tools in identifying fraudulent actors and protecting user privacy, while also still allowing organizations to measure and activate non-personal insights from networks of decentralized datasets. How companies and brands use consumer data, and the education they produce around those efforts, will be crucial to maintaining trust. 

It is an exciting and pivotal time within the digital economy. In the following report, the PSFK research team looks at nine key trends in data privacy and security, and brings them to life with a number of best-practice examples and innovations from the marketplace.