Policy & Research
Imagine a world where a company can refuse you a loan because your friends on Facebook have bad credit rating. When you get worse deals than others when buying online because a company has tracked your search patterns and know that you’re not much of a bargain hunter.
These are just some of the problems that an increasing number of people could be facing in the digital age. This is not to say that digital advances are a bad thing. Widespread access to the internet and the tools and applications that have been built on it has brought many benefits such as increased access to information, transparency, convenience and new means of communication to millions of people.
But there has been less focus on what potential risks and challenges will emerge from how these new digital technologies are deployed. Our timely review of digital downsides All that’s digital isn’t gold: The challenges and risks of the digital age, aims to do just that.
The aim of highlighting these downsides is to prompt debate and persuade those who are in a position to pre-empt and prevent these (regulators, enforcers, consumer groups and companies that operate in this area) to understand and respond to these consumer detriment issues now before they become widespread problems.
We would like to hear your views on this report and the issues it raises. Please read the report and make any comments you have in the blog.
There’s something here to interest everyone with a stake in digital policy or strategy development. We’re bringing together content using the tag #digitaldownsides – please use that if you choose to join the debate.
We asked Ctrl-Shift to to carry out a research project on the internet and new technologies which have made powerful new approaches to consumer empowerment possible.
Most observers would probably say that, on balance, these new technologies have brought significant benefits to consumers. However, these benefits are not unqualified. There are real and potential downsides too – and that is what this project focuses on. The aim of this research is to build an inventory and a publicly accessible database of all the potential consumer risks and downsides of the emerging digital age.
Armed with a broad perspective and understanding of what these downsides are, consumers and consumer bodies like Consumer Focus will have greater ability to proactively work to head off or avoid potential these downsides before they do too much damage or become too entrenched in the system. Read Defining and defending consumer interests in the digital age (PDF 803KB)