Your data is the next brand battleground

WE Communications Blog: Technology

— Trevor Jonas 

As the Internet of Things continues to reach more and more homes, consumers’ digital data has become increasingly valuable and has quickly turned into an emerging battleground as it pertains to ownership and privacy. It has also become a major communications issue, as both Sonos and AccuWeather found out this week.

For those that don’t follow this type of news closely, here’s a quick rundown below.

What happened with Sonos and AccuWeather?


On Monday it was reported that Sonos, maker of high-quality, connected sound systems (which I have in my home) had updated its privacy policy to let users know that it planned to collect more data on how the products are being used. The kicker? ZDNet’s lead sums it up perfectly:

“Sonos has confirmed that existing customers will not be given an option to opt out of its new privacy policy, leaving customers with sound systems that may eventually ‘cease to function’.”

So a physical product I purchased may eventually ‘cease to function’ if I don’t agree to an updated privacy policy? This obviously didn’t sit well with many existing customers and likely didn’t do any favors for the company among those in the market for a new home sound system.

Then on Tuesday media picked up on the fact that AccuWeather, a popular weather app for iOS, was “…collecting and sharing user location data even when location sharing permissions are turned off…” Why? To turn around and share that valuable information with third-party firms that collect such data to help deliver targeted ads to consumers.

Lessons for consumers and brands


The reality is that every consumer who has dabbled in the Internet of Things – or even simply has a mobile device loaded with apps – should presume that one way or another their digital breadcrumbs are likely being swept up, collected and possibly monetized whether they know it or not. This doesn’t make it right, but it’s the reality.

For brands, it’s always good to avoid these so-called ‘self-inflicted wounds’ that are seemingly everywhere in the news right now. Why not get out in front of the story, be transparent and not try to hide what’s being done within a wordy ‘privacy policy’ statement that few ever read? I’d be willing to bet doing so would cut down on unfavorable headlines and make customers feel better about the brands they purchase from.  


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