Perceptions on Privacy & Obstacles

As many of our interviewees and consumer respondents noted, a federal privacy regulation is certainly a notion that should be considered and implemented in order to provide businesses with a consistent policy framework while ensuring that consumers are adequately protected. However, there are certainly several obstacles that are making such an implementation more complex. Our interviewees emphasized the following obstacles based on their viewpoints:

Lack of Unification

There is a lack of unification around the world when it comes to viewing privacy. Historically, Americans have worried extensively about privacy in relation to government and not necessarily corporations. On the other hand, in Europe, many countries can be essentially considered surveillance states, such as the United Kingdom. This brings up some interesting questions. How do we regulate an international system when privacy is technically borderless? If we want to stop companies from collecting data, what business model do you want them to adopt? Can machines violate my privacy? Are you willing to lose all of the benefits we gain from living in a connected world?



A lack of a privacy-oriented classes in educational institutions, such as high schools and colleges, is preventing the next generation of consumers from being adequately informed and aware of the many privacy abuses that occur at the hands of corporations and government. Without education, consumers will be unaware of the personal and societal ramifications of not regulating technology companies. In addition to education, it is also important that we continue conducting extensive research in this space as privacy and technology are quickly evolving.


Political Economy

Many companies would prefer that consumers “don’t figure it out” and actively seek a drastic change to existing privacy infrastructure. Consumers don’t have commensurate force in those who make law.


Protecting Privacy via the Free Market / Libertarian Perspective

Many libertarians are cautious of government interventions to protect privacy, believing that some government-imposed privacy policies may do more harm than good. In particular, poor government privacy law could lead to market inefficiencies that hurt business profits and make it harder for startups to grow. Many libertarians and economists in general believe in letting the free market protect privacy, arguing that if privacy is important to consumers, it will be reflected in purchasing decisions that incentivize corporations to develop products with better privacy features. However, there is a fundamental paradox where many consumers express care over privacy but don't have a high willingness to pay for it, leading to few  changes to the status quo.