The privacy pay-off: What happened?

January 26, 2010
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Last summer I pitched a BusinessWeek story to be called The Privacy Pay-off. The idea was that enlightened companies would figure out how to market data privacy, and they would use it to give themselves a competitive advantage. Instead of cloaking what they did with cookies and personal data behind virtually unreadable (and unread) privacy policies, they would promote these policies with utter clarity.

The idea? These privacy-savvy companies would gain the trust of consumers. And with that trust, they would win access to ever more data…


Last summer I pitched a BusinessWeek story to be called The Privacy Pay-off. The idea was that enlightened companies would figure out how to market data privacy, and they would use it to give themselves a competitive advantage. Instead of cloaking what they did with cookies and personal data behind virtually unreadable (and unread) privacy policies, they would promote these policies with utter clarity.

The idea? These privacy-savvy companies would gain the trust of consumers. And with that trust, they would win access to ever more data, which they could use to provide customized services.

I never wrote the story. I blame this on two things. First, BusinessWeek was on the block, suitors were circling, and I was distracted. Far more important, I never found good examples of companies angling for the privacy pay-off. Do you know any?

In any case, I did lots of reporting. Before it all goes rotten, I’ll be blogging bits and pieces of it, and perhaps incorporating strands of it into larger stories. I used some of it for a post I wrote yesterday, What Does Google Know about You?, on the Smart Data Collective. (According to my agreement with the site, I write one exclusive post per month.)

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I went into New York yesterday for a BusinessWeek reunion near Times Square. It had rained most of the day, and as I walked up from Penn Station I focused on some of the puddles…

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