Many years ago, the famous left-wing academic Noam Chomsky wrote his celebrated book ‘Manufacturing Consent’ about the mass media, and how it was being used by the political establishment to massage public opinion.
Chomsky’s premise was that the media was being used to persuade ordinary people to support policies and structures in society which were not necessarily to their advantage.
Fast forward three decades from Chomsky's book and the mass media has gone through several significant changes, primarily driven by the advent of the internet.
Since Chomsky wrote his book, we have seen the advent of citizen journalism, bloggers, social media influencers, and the rise of the ubiquitous smartphone. These have potentially made everyone with a phone into a documentary maker or a news camera person.
All of these factors have, in one way or another, put power back into the hands of the individual. The waters may be muddied by "fake news" and "hate speech" – which is a whole different argument - but there is now an unprecedented opportunity for people to broadcast their own opinions and comment on the views of others.
Linking Consent to Innovation
As we enter the new era of data, one of the next significant transformations in power and the exchange of value is set to be around consumer consent. To that end, several companies have sprung up around the world, offering what could be called "privacy as a service."
One of these is Ireland-based Priviti, which is starting up in Australia as the country moves to embrace Consumer Data Right legislation and move to Open Data and Open Banking. Priviti also has offices in Singapore.
Priviti is a patented consent management platform that gives users greater control over how their data is shared. It also helps drive better compliance on privacy issues among corporates.
The company patented its solution worldwide in 2018 and is now developing a value proposition based around emerging privacy legislation. It is one reason why it is now targeting Australia.
Dermot McCann, the Head of Asia Pacific for Priviti, sees his company’s solution as a “utility” that sits underneath all transactional arrangements across multiple use cases in industry’s spanning financial services, advertising, health, energy, the government sector, and telecommunications.
The company is involved in several ‘proof of concept' projects with corporates in these sectors.
“We believe that if consumers trust a consent platform, then that can drive the development of a whole range of new services on the product side,” says McCann.
"While it is invisible to the consumer, it also works as a utility, like a card scheme and we will work with the major schemes in operation as well."
Energy Market Responds
In June this year, Priviti announced a collaboration with the Australian comparison website Accurassi to take its solution into the Australian energy market place.
Founded in 2002, Accurassi provides data services to the energy market, financial services, and state governments. Its proprietary platform enables personalized comparisons of energy providers using data from consumers' utility bills, and for this, the consent of householders and energy users is critical.
In this use case, the Priviti API will be embedded into the user experience to provide explicit authorization to energy retailers for the release of bills to Accurassi.
“Currently consumers need to find a PDF version of their latest energy bill to use on EnergySwitch, the NSW Government Comparison service, or in the Accurassi marketplace,” said Ross Sharman, Accurassi’s chief executive.
“Priviti will help remove this friction point and ensure automated and secure provision of utility bills on issuance to Accurassi’s marketplace, enabling us to add value and improve efficiency for consumers and financial institutions.”
Priviti's potential promise is a virtuous circle which begins with consumer consent but also involves a transaction. If consumers give their consent, then they can simplify their lives when they change providers across a range of industries. Making their available credit data available can drive rapid approvals of applications. It can also draw targeted offers for premium customers in what could be the ultimate personalization.
At the core of this is trust, which is where Priviti believes it has an advantage.
To put it simply, if these next-generation privacy platforms were in place a few years ago, there wouldn't have been any Cambridge Analytica scandal. And the number of privacy leaks would be severely reduced.
The hope is that the consumer trust in these platforms will grow as they understand the intent of the legislation. Then, the new era of data can function on built-in consent permissions which always remain at the discretion of customers.
Without that trust, the digital future is not frictionless but full of roadblocks.