Whose Identity Is It Anyway? Consumer Representation in the Age of Database Marketing

  • Detlev Zwick, Nikhilesh Dholakia
  • Journal of Macromarketing, June 2004, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0276146704263920

An Early Robust Framework on Indentity, Privacy, Security Issues

What is it about?

Before Wikileaks, before Snowden-NSA revelations, before the big bang of "Big Data", before the massive data thefts from retailers and banks... Detlev Zwick and Nikhilesh Dholakia anticipated the emergent complexities of databases and consumers. This paper is a robust framework on these issues.

Why is it important?

This is an early but effective, insightful and robust analytical and interpretive framework to look into the complexities of consumers' digital traces getting increasingly enmeshed in "Big Data" constellations.


Dr Nikhilesh Dholakia
University of Rhode Island

This work was done during the time Detlev Zwick was my doctoral student at the University of Rhode Island (URI). Since then, Zwick, faculty at Schulich School, York University (Canada); and I (in Rhode Island, USA) have continued to work with issues of identity-presence-persona in settings that are mobile, social and virtual -- in ways that are increasingly enmeshed and interactive. *********** With swiftness and stealth, on March 28, 2017, US Congress and Senate passed a bill that destroys all pretenses in USA (the few that existed) for safeguarding the private data of individuals… data that we generate routinely as electronically connected citizens, consumers, and community members. The data fields have been now flung open for all manners of exploitation, including possibly to dangerous assaults. These headlines appeared within 48 hours of this bombshell law: Scientific American: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/data-privacy-is-trumps-fcc-redefining-public-interest-as-business-interest/ CNN: http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/28/technology/house-internet-privacy-repeal/ Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/us-eliminating-rules-on-data-privacy-poses-a-serious_us_58db7592e4b0487a198a55a2 Folks, it is time to revisit the work that Detlev Zwick and I started at the turn of this century. The concerns we had raised are in the smack center of public discourse in 2017. We had started pointing out the big gap in privacy protection between EU and USA, as early as about 2000. The new bill in USA makes this gap a giant chasm. Just as on the issues of environmental protection, USA has ceded leadership to China, on the issue of data privacy protection of individuals, the onus is now on EU to save the world. It would be wonderful, for example, if EU could extend its privacy protection umbrella to all those non-EU folks who deal with EU folks via electronic means. My bet is that this would likely cover half the population of the planet.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Nikhilesh Dholakia and Dr Detlev Zwick