Resistance to digital tracking will cause problems for internet economy

Consumers are seeking out new tools that allow them to remain "invisible"

The internet economy could face turbulence in the future, according to analysts Ovum, due to digital consumers' reluctance to be tracked online.

Ovum's Consumer Insights Survey reveals that 68 percent of the internet population across 11 countries would select a "do-not-track" (DNT) feature if it was easily available, suggesting a "data black hole" could soon open up under the Internet economy.

The survey gleans responses from 11,000 consumers. Ovum warns web advertisers and marketers that consumers are seeking out new tools that allow them to remain "invisible" - untraceable and impossible to target by data means.

Ovum said the hardening of consumer attitudes, coupled with tightening regulation, could diminish personal data "supply lines" and have a "considerable impact" on targeted advertising, CRM, big data analytics and other digital industries.

Ovum analyst Mark Little said: "Unfortunately, in the gold rush that is big data, taking the supply of 'little data' - personal data - for granted seems to be an accident waiting to happen.

"Consumers are being empowered with new tools and services to monitor, control and secure their personal data as never before, and it seems they increasingly have the motivation to use them."

Ovum said the writing was on the wall with recent data privacy scandals such as WhatsApp's use of address books, and the continuing issues over privacy and data use policies on Facebook and Google websites.

Ovum's survey found that only 14 percent of respondents believe that internet companies are "honest" about their use of consumers' personal data, suggesting it will be a challenge for online companies to change consumers' perceptions.

Ovum believes that internet companies should introduce new privacy tools and messaging campaigns designed to convince consumers that they can be trusted. It said improving the transparency of data collection and use will help to build trust.

Little said: "Data controllers need a better feel for the approaching disruption to their supply lines, and must invest in tools that help them understand the profile of today's negatively-minded users."

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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