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Ovum predicts turbulence for the Internet economy

Digital consumers worldwide are starting to tire of their personal data being collected across the Internet, according to research firm, Ovum.

Its latest Consumer Insights Survey , which polled 11,000 respondents, revealed that 68 per cent of the Internet population across 11 countries would select a "do-not-track" (DNT) feature if it was easily available.

Ovum claimed this suggests that a data black hole could soon open up under the Internet economy, painting a threatening scenario as consumers seek out new tools that allow them to remain "invisible" -- untraceable and impossible to target by data means.

It 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.

According to Ovum principal analyst, Mark Little, consumers are increasingly motivated to use new tools and services to monitor, control, and secure their personal data.

"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," he said.

The report highlighted 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, which have fuelled consumers' concerns over the protection of their personal data.

It stated only 14 per cent of respondents believe that Internet companies are honest about their use of consumers' personal data, suggesting a challenge for online companies to change consumer perceptions.

Ovum suggested Internet companies introduce new privacy tools and messaging campaigns to convince consumers in trusting them.

It mentioned improving the transparency of data collection and use will help to build trust, a commodity that will increasingly become a sustainable competitive advantage.

"Internet companies need a new set of messages to change consumers' attitudes. These messages must be based on positive direct relationships, engagement with consumers, and the provision of genuine and trustworthy privacy controls," Little said.

"Most importantly, 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 -- tomorrow's invisible consumers."

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