LES ECHOS (France), EU OBSERVER (Belgium), BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP (USA), WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM, DATA PROTECTION IN EUROPE
BRUSSELS - This week, more than 90 leading academics across Europe launched a petition to support the European Commission’s draft data protection regulation, reports the EU Observer.
The online petition, entitled Data Protection in Europe, says “huge lobby groups are trying to massively influence the regulatory bodies.” The goal of the site is to make sure the European Commission’s law is in line with the latest technologies and that the protection of personal data is guaranteed.
The site refers to a recent report from the World Economic Forum’s Personal Data Project, Unlocking the Value of Personal Data: From Collection to Usage, prepared in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group. The report says a new approach is needed to protect the rights of individuals while enabling new business models and accommodating technology evolution.
Our personal data is what helps giants such as Google, Amazon, Apple of Facebook to build their business model and get rich, writes Les Echos.
To understand what is at stake, here are a few things you need to know, says Les Echos:
-How much are you worth?
Mark Zuckerberg recently wrote a letter to potential Facebook investors saying, “Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected.”
Mission accomplished for the 28-year-old billionaire – Facebook has more than one billion users around the world. The social network’s revenue stream is by now well known: collecting the digital breadcrumbs we drop as we browse, and selling it back to advertisers.
We drop these digital breadcrumbs every time we use our laptops, smartphones, tablets, credit cards, etc. – and all of this data amounts to digital gold. Its value can actually be quantified: one trillion euros in Europe by 2020 according to the Boston Consulting Group, 8% of the combined GDP of the EU-27 countries.
Facebook makes $5 billion in revenue, with one billion subscribers, that means $5 per user.
-Who stores your data?
Apple and Amazon sell products and services, while Google and Facebook rely on advertising. Apple and Amazon have a more classic business approach, they use your personal data to recommend products, and store your banking information – for your convenience of course, so that you don’t have to type your credit card details every time you buy something.
Everything that is typed, looked up or posted can be stored and cross-referenced. Google offers free services (about 60 of them, including Gmail, Google Maps, Youtube, etc.) but as marketing professionals remind us, if it’s free, you’re the product.
-How are you tracked?
As we browse, we leave “cookies,” micro-files that identify us. “Only 2% of Internet users regularly manage their cookies,” says Alain Levy from Weborama.
Google’s best weapon is its search engine. It uses our data to update its services and tailor its ads to what we need. In 2012, sponsored links (Adwords) brought in $31 billion in revenue – two-thirds of Google’s overall profit margin.
-Where will it end?
Google’s Picasa, Apple’s iPhoto and Facebook’s Instagram – all these programs want to make money from facial recognition and geolocation. Facebook recently tried to make money off Instagram users by selling their uploaded photos, but quickly backtracked when users started rebelling and massively cancelling their Instagram accounts.