Recently, your humble correspondent read about this PR disaster from consumer electronics giant LG.
Basically, an engineer in the UK has discovered the company’s smart TVs appear to send back a string of unencrypted data to LG every time a user changes channels, including the time, channel name and a unique device ID.
Likewise, when users watch a video clip of a USB stick, the name of the file is sent to the company.
Needless to say, back in my day, Sonny Jim Cockett, there was no room for such tele-shenanigans!
Back then, your average Rank Arena was a big, dumb heavy fake wood grain-covered box with a coat-hanger antenna on top that sat in a corner. It didn’t do much – in fact, before the late ‘80s you weren’t even guaranteed to get a remote control (unless you had kids who you could order to change the channel).
Still, there was one thing the old Rank Arenas certainly didn’t do: Spy on the channel you are watching!
Now, consumers are certainly more than willing to give up some consumer information about themselves to a business – especially if there’s a benefit to them.
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It’s safe to say, for example, that most people are aware that Google gathers personal information about its users in order to serve up ads. But there’s a useful benefit to the consumer in gaining services for free – hosted email, video on demand – that otherwise they would have to pay for.
It’s a fair deal, Google is generally fairly upfront about it, and it’s a deal most consumers are more than willing to accept.
Especially in a new product category, such as smart TVs in this case, it’s important to be transparent about exactly what information is gathered and why.
There’s a clear lesson here for any tech start-ups looking to offer a data-based service.
When it comes to building consumer confidence in your tech start-up, it’s better to be more transparent about how much data you gather – like Google – than have your consumers end up feeling deceived – like LG.
So how upfront is your business about the data you collect, and why? And should you be more transparent?
It’s worth looking into.
Get it done – today!