Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Marketplace Solutions for "Privacy Resignation"

During her keynote address (available in the form of prepared remarks and video) at "Broadband Beyond 2020: Competition, Freedom, and Privacy," the Free State Foundation's Twelfth Annual Telecom Policy Conference on March 10, FTC Commissioner Christine S. Wilson discussed the need for federal privacy and data security legislation.

Noting the existence of information asymmetries, she argued that market forces may not be sufficient to resolve concerns relating to online privacy. In particular, she highlighted the concept of "privacy resignation," i.e., "the notion that consumers rationally choose to forego expending significant time and effort protecting personal information."
Might the marketplace on its own deliver solutions to address this need?
According to NBC News, privacy may "finally be living up to its promise as a profitable business." The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) in 2019 released a report identifying over 250 companies focused on privacy technology, up from less than 50 in 2017.
While many privacy businesses tailor their services to the compliance needs of corporate clients, others focus directly on consumers.
One example is Jumbo, which has developed apps for iOS and Android that "empower[] you to take control of your privacy and security, right from your phone." Jumbo is designed to simplify user access to, and control of, privacy settings on popular platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Google.
Another is Disconnect, whose "mission is to improve the internet and the world by empowering people to exercise their right to privacy."
To the extent that "privacy resignation" is a widespread issue, it creates economic incentive for marketplace participants, whether existing providers or new entrants, to fill the void.