Trading Privacy for Money; Report shows use of Social Data for Credit Approval

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Privacy Study Kaspersky
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A recent report from global security solutions leader Kaspersky reflects on the testimonials of several consumers who have been asked to provide their social media information to expedite their credit applications. 

Kaspersky’s “Social credits and Security: embracing the world of ratings” report states that extensive use of social media now allows organizations to offer their current and potential customers customized services as well as a more seamless experience. However behavioral assessment based on personal information, including social media activity also leads to social credit scorings based on automated algorithms that may impact our personal lives.

Findings within the report state that 18% of consumers encountered issues in getting loans or mortgages because of information collected about them from their social media account. The most affected were individuals in the age group 25-34 years (32%) who rely on these services the most. Even though there are established regulations for credit scoring based on financial behavior, there is no such framework or information available in the public domain on systems that collect personal information from our online profiles.

Kaspersky’s report hints that several individuals are ready to share sensitive private data to secure better rates and discounts, and to receive special services. Meanwhile, there is a considerable amount of consumers that remain vigilant with how they use social media, and some may not consider letting organizations peek into their personal lives.

26% of respondents to the report suggested that they would not share their profile just to fast track through credit card background checks. While a slightly lower percentage group is not comfortable with sharing this kind of personal information in order to secure a place in a top school for a child (20%) or a better flat for rent (18%).

Marco Preuss, Director
Global Research and Analysis Team, Europe

“In today’s digital world a social scoring system will soon grow more widespread, becoming not just a choice but an integral part of multiple services. However, the Kaspersky global survey highlights that there is a significant number of those who don’t want to share their private information in order to secure any deals. Their opinion cannot be ignored, and as developers create AI algorithms into social ratings, the interests of all should be considered, as well as questions of trust and transparency should be addressed.”

As businesses try to benefit from technology and consumer data in new ways, consumers are also considering which organizations can be trusted with their data. With the cyber threat landscape continuing to widen, protecting personal data can be a big challenge.

Reports for Kaspersky found that consumers shared their lack of trust on government platforms while they trusted more on medical operators, banks or insurance companies in sharing their data.  While 24% of consumers said they did not trust the government, Only 19% of respondents mistrusted companies or services to store their personal data.

Professor Chengyi Lin
Affiliate Professor – Strategy

“The main objective of a social scoring system is to measure and improve trust – in both the digital and physical worlds. At the same time, the system will require trust from the public to function. Depending on the economic, social and cultural context, the level of overall trust, trust in various entities and trust in the digital world vary country by country. Therefore, the decision on whether to design and implement a social scoring system, at least in the short term, is likely to reside with each country. Beyond the obvious concerns on data privacy and security, the decision needs to carefully consider what trade-offs that society is willing to make, who the society is willing to entrust to design and operate the system, and how the system will be implemented and governed.”

While sharing personal information online Kaspersky advises consumers to take the following steps to protect their privacy:

  • Consumers must remain conscious of what personal information is shared online and who has access to their personal accounts. One can use Kaspersky’s Privacy Check service to explore how to change the privacy settings for their online services to take control of the personal data.
  • Sharing behavior has its benefits but only with the right services. An online survey may provide a discount off the favorite brands, but this may lead to a company learning more than what is wanted by them to know. Users need to vigilant about their online activities.
  • Using reliable security solution such as Kaspersky Security Cloud for comprehensive protection from a wide range of threats can protect online privacy. For instance, the Do Not Track feature prevents the loading of tracking elements that monitor actions on websites and collect information about the users.