The invasive convenience of digital experiences

The invasive convenience of digital experiences

May 21, 2021

At ATB Ventures, we had an inkling that people may be losing trust in the companies they share their data with on a daily basis.

It would be an understandable reality, as our news feeds are constantly peppered with stories of data breaches; as we are immersed in conversations around big tech’s data monetization models; and as we’re seeing targeted ads that "know" us just a little bit too well.

There’s something convenient about our online experiences, but are we starting to feel like it’s getting just a bit too invasive?

In typical ATB Ventures’ fashion, we took this hypothesis and decided to back it up with data. What we found in our survey of 1,028 North Americans, was that over 58% of respondents didn’t feel as though many companies have their best interest in mind when it comes to their personal data, while over 41% don’t feel like they have enough information to navigate the world of data privacy.

Yet, even though we have this collective gnawing concern over our online presences, here we all still are: online. People are reporting to feel one way but aren’t acting according to those feelings, so what’s stopping us from protecting ourselves? To look at this apparent contradiction of feelings versus behaviour, let’s dig into what happened with another notable invention of the last century: the automobile.

When cars first hit the road in the early 20th century, it wasn’t a pretty sight. A surge of traffic deaths and injuries led many to express concerns around this new technology. The root cause of the danger was multifold: infrastructure was designed for a much slower horse and carriage, vehicular safety needed more research and development, and roads were a lowly regulated space. Despite that, the value proposition offered by vehicles was too compelling to ignore. Individuals still took on the risk, leaning into this fresh machinery while society took decades to understand, prioritize, and minimize risk factors through numerous multifaceted solutions.

Looking at the internet, we’re experiencing the same transition right now. Our most recent iteration of the internet, Web 2.0, has been a wild west when it comes to our personal data. Each and every one of us has been continuously giving up data points (through things such as online shopping, presenting a driver’s license, or creating an account) that companies are able to form into clear digital identities representing each of us— digital identities that we don’t own or control.

Just like with the automobile, it’s taken us a few years to realize the hazards surrounding us and what we’ve been sacrificing. The internet’s infrastructure wasn’t designed for how we’re using it today, data safety technologies need more research and development, and consumer data privacy isn’t heavily regulated in North America. Over 70% of survey respondents stated that they wish that there was more regulation related to how companies use and protect their personal data. It is this collision of attributes which is leaving us increasingly vulnerable to coercion, manipulation, and hypernudging as we give companies a deep understanding of what truly makes us tick.

However, also as with automobiles, we are not willing to give up the perceived benefits this technology provides in the face of risk. If we prioritize our privacy we lose out on things such as connection, convenience, and customization and those things matter to us. Only 30% of survey respondents stated they understand why they should give up convenience for data privacy.

The question becomes, why is this an “either/or” decision point? Why should we have to lose out on something to be protected? At ATB Ventures, we don’t think you do. As the definitions of personal data-value and consumer-managed data privacy mature, we are advocating for the evolution of trust and technology to pivot to work in harmony - as opposed to in opposition of each other - so that consumers can get the best of both worlds. Just like the century of progress we have had that made vehicles increasingly safe, it’s time to do the same for personal data (and hopefully do it a bit quicker).

The ATB Ventures Trust Stack is the first Web 3.0 designed solution to prioritize consumer privacy and trust all the way from infrastructure to customer value. The Trust Stack proposes combining a traditional technology stack with seven trusted elements - data, security, privacy, fairness, transparency, design & experience, and customer value - which ensure that AI algorithms are fair and just for all.

People are concerned about their digital futures. 62% of respondents reported being worried about how to keep their data safe in an increasingly digital world, but this is a worry we don’t believe needs to exist in the next iteration of online experiences. Trust today, for ATB Financial, is a system of connection between our customers and team members; this connection is used to bridge the fundamental needs of consumers with the economy around them. As that becomes increasingly digitized, data will begin to build that bridge - introducing new dimensions of trust, privacy, consent, and biases. As an organization we are committed to keeping these at the forefront of our architecture - to create a more inclusive future for all.

Through the development and use of the Trust Stack we are taking meaningful steps at breaking down barriers which are preventing equitable and safe participation in our new economy. There is genius everywhere, and through the Trust Stack we are ensuring everyone can confidently interact and activate on opportunity by building fairness, integrity, and truth into the foundations of the digital world. We hope that by beginning the conversation on this topic, other early adopters and advocates can mobilize to help us collectively evolve the ecosystem, consumer experiences, and the trust stack itself.

Will you join us in this commitment to the future of humanity? Be an advocate for positive change: #TechandTrust.

Download the full infographic that reflects the primary research from our 2021 ATB Ventures Trust Survey

Miranda Mantey