Let’s take a people-first approach to data privacy

Member Content

Sara Vincent, Utiq managing director, UK, urges the ad-tech industry to seize the opportunity to put consumers back in control of their personal data.

The ad tech industry has spent years accumulating data on consumers – often without their prior knowledge or consent. This data has been used to track them as they head off on their digital journeys, with the aim – sometimes successful, sometimes not – of serving them relevant advertising.

But finally, as Google begins to make good on its plans to start deprecating the cookie in the Chrome browser – to add to a range of privacy and transparency initiatives across the wider industry – we are coming to a point where consumers are being informed about the collection of their personal data, and handed back control of the process. 

Make no mistake, that can only be a good thing. There is no getting away from data privacy. Far better to embrace it, and celebrate the fact that consumers are finally being given the choice to consent – or not consent – to engage with individual companies, including advertisers and publishers.

We need to acknowledge that the only body or entity that should be in control of someone’s personal data is that person themselves, and that they should be free to give or refuse consent for it to be used to serve them targeted advertising. And if they do give consent, they should be free to revoke it at any time, from any and every advertiser and publisher they ever gave it to – all at once or on a case-by-case basis.

Digital sovereignty

At Utiq, we call this concept digital sovereignty, and we define it as the ability of individuals and organisations to control their own data and digital assets, without being dependent on, or influenced by, external parties. 

We believe it is a right that should be respected and protected by all stakeholders in the digital ecosystem, including governments, businesses and users, and that it’s not a nice-to-have, but a necessity that ensures the security, privacy and autonomy of our digital world.

Clearly, we are a long way from achieving digital sovereignty right now – though Google’s gradual, albeit accelerating phase-out of cookies in its Chrome browser has at least had the effect of making the industry hunt for alternative paths forward. 

But we’ve arrived at a watershed moment for advertisers, publishers and consumers. We have an opportunity to commit to a clear value exchange that can secure the future of the open, ad-funded web – and we can’t blow this chance to restore trust with the global population of online citizens.

To seize this opportunity, there are a few things we need to accept:

  • Less is more
    More data does not equate to better user experiences in digital advertising. Instead, minimised and decentralised data use reflects simplicity, user choice and privacy – which is the key to a people-first future digital advertising.

By championing the collection of only essential information, businesses can navigate privacy regulations more effectively, while simultaneously fostering an environment of trust with their users.

Decentralised data, meanwhile, means redistributing power and control to consumers. It is a call for a democratisation of data, where individuals have a say in how their information is used and who benefits from it. 

  • Trust is key
    People have a right to expect that digital entities will act in a transparent, accountable and ethical manner, respecting the rights and interests of others.

There is also a notable dependency on the digital infrastructure and services that support the exchange and processing of data and digital assets. This is a place where trust is won, but more often lost, within the digital advertising ecosystem, and change is needed to restore its value.

  • Privacy is not a luxury, but a fundamental right
    The erosion of privacy in the digital era poses a grave threat to individual autonomy. Without robust privacy safeguards, individuals are left vulnerable to the exploitation and manipulation of their very identity.
  • Elevate consent
    Consent, often buried deep in the terms and conditions of digital platforms, must be elevated to the forefront of the user experience. True consent is an active agreement that empowers individuals to decide on how their data will be used.

Utiq has been created to enable trusted, responsible interactions. It is our belief that privacy and consent require education, respect and accountability to enable people to enjoy real choice and control over their data usage, digital advertising and marketing experiences.

Our stance on privacy and data protection is part of our manifesto for change. We want to get to a place where individuals are active participants, where autonomy is cherished, and where choice is wholly respected.

The time has come for a people-first digital advertising revolution, complying with, and driven by, privacy, data protection and choice. 

We all have a part to play in delivering this, and in ensuring a trusted, open web.