Trading privacy for content - new report does not quite deliver for me



I got excited when I read this as it was spot on for “my digital footprint”, then I down loaded the report….


Trading privacy for content, John Cass, Director of the Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network (CIKTN), the organisation behind the project, said: “Even when we access content for free, we leave a digital trail of metadata behind us.  By aggregating this information, organisations can generate a picture of a person’s behaviours and deliver relevant content to them.”


The biggest issue with using metadata more effectively in this way are public fears over privacy.  However, Cass believes that, in the future, people will increasingly be prepared to trade privacy for content or even financial reward.  At present some companies such as Google and Facebook collect this sort of data without the users fully understanding its value.


“The big challenge will be to make the whole process more transparent so people understand the value of the data they have, how it will be used and what they are getting in return for that data,” said Cass.


“This model already exists with store loyalty cards where we share information about our shopping habits in return for personalised offers and benefits, or cash back. The same model could be developed in the online world with companies delivering highly personalised content or offers to people.


“The traditional view is that content is free or paid for.  The recent introduction of the Times paywall shows how content creators are looking for ways to monetise what was a free commodity.  The other option is supporting the generation of content by intelligently monetising metadata to deliver relevant and personalised information to users.  Effectively people choose to trade some of their privacy for either free content or financial reward.  More than 40% of the creatives we surveyed felt this could have a groundbreaking effect in their business.


“Content companies that recognise the need to make this process transparent and give consumers the power to make meaningful choices are the ones that will be able to drive new revenue streams and delight customers,” added Cass.


Privacy as a tradable commodity was one of several key findings in the CIKTN Beacon report on The Future of Digital Content, part of a programme of 14 projects being carried out by the CI KTN to tackle the big technology related challenges faced by the UK’s creative industries.  Each Beacon Project identifies key innovation and business needs to enable organisations to turn creative ideas into business successes for the UK.


Within the UK, the Creative Industries sector contributes over 6.4% of UK Gross Value Added and is growing at faster rate than the economy as a whole. In 2007, total Creative Industries revenues amounted to some £67.5bn. The Publishing sub-sector is the largest, with Radio & TV and Advertising among the top performers.



Then I downloaded the report.  Some reports stimulate and move everything forward. Some restate where were are, what we already know and only reach what we can touch and feel, sadly this is the latter.


The full report can be downloaded from here:


Otherwise it can be downloaded from their web site at