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At its core, respecting the user means that, when designing or deploying an information system, the individual’s privacy rights and interests are accommodated right from the outset. User-centricity means putting the interests, needs, and expectations of people first, not those of the organization or its staff. This is key to delivering the next generation of retail experience because empowering people to play active roles in the management of their personal data helps to mitigate abuses and misuses. To this end, Aislelabs provides an opt out site that allows individuals to choose not to have their retail traffic data included in any anonymous analytics.

It’s incredible that any company – let alone a Canadian Privacy Commissioner – would claim that an opt-out mechanism for hidden and secretive tracking technologies (i.e. monitoring your mobile devices as you walk through the world so retailers can better sell you things) constitutes “putting the interests, needs, and expectations of people first, not those of the organization or its staff.” For such an assertion to be valid the ‘people’ should be given the opportunity to opt-in, not out, of a surveillance system that few will know about and fewer will understand. There are vast bodies of academic and industry literatures which show opt-out mechanisms generally do not work; they’re not effectively centralized and they add considerable levels of friction that hinder consumers’ abilities to express their actual interests. And that’s just fine for many retailers and analytics companies because they’re concerned with turning people into walking piggy banks, not with thinking of individuals as deserving any semblance of a reasonable expectation of privacy.