The rapid rise of the internet did a lot to change the way privacy and consumer protection could be viewed – social media has long been criticised for the way it handles personal data as much of the way the bigger platforms profit can be found in the way data is collected and sold to advertisers – this is very much true for many modern tech companies that collect data as the real value can be found in how this data can hold value to advertisers. Before, this may have been somewhat shrouded and not widely known, but as it has become clear that this is happening on a wider scale than many previously may have though, efforts toward consumer protection in many different ways have become increasingly important – this is being found in many forms such as privacy rule updates, restriction to service, bigger data protection movements such as GDPR, or for many just a changing in terminology.
Not all efforts for consumer protection are focussed toward privacy, however, as one of the biggest changes can be seen within the UK in a bid to protect problemed gamblers as an anti-gambling initiative called Gamstop had recently been introduced. The initiative is aimed at being a self inclusion scheme for those looking to restrict their own access where they may find they have a problem, but as with many consumer protection actions, many find ways to get around it. In the case of Gamstop, the initiative is only aimed at operators who register within the UK, and as such those who register in neighboring countries with slightly more relaxed laws are not subject to it – as these sites are not on gamstop, they can often attract a larger audience.
Whilst it’s clear there are still teething issues with some efforts, more attention is being drawn towards the way our data is handled, the way our time is spent, and the way that this information is being used, and with that a refocus on how protection is handled. As a younger audience on mobile devices continues to grow, this may also continue to be a strong focus – and not just on data. There have been many stories of youngsters gaining access to platforms they otherwise shouldn’t have been able to as protection through smartphones was easy to get around, or those who have spent tens of thousands on mobile games as approval measures in place were a little lax.
Our technology is getting smarter and the intuitive design makes the access incredibly easy, and as such methods will need to be put into place to ensure the protection of the users, and it definitely feels as if steps are being taken in the right direction as consumer protection continues to be brought toward the forefront and to public attention – whether or not changes in certain countries such as the UK with Brexit may hamper this are yet to be seen, but as with many issues it is a trending topic in the tech world and is unlikely to fall out of focus any time soon.