Public has struck ‘Faustian bargain’ in disclosure of data

People have struck a ‘Faustian bargain’ in the way they have become comfortable giving away so much personal information, says Aviva's CIO.

People have struck a "Faustian bargain" in the way they have become comfortable giving away so much personal information about themselves, says insurance giant Aviva's CIO Cathryn Riley.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Riley said: “My feeling at the moment is the generation today has struck a bit of a Faustian bargain in being willing to give away data in return for a better customer experience.

“But if that gets abused in any way then I think people will become more private. Whether we eventually do see people becoming more guarded or thinking about how they might exploit and charge for that personal data – time will tell. But I wouldn’t say people will necessarily continue to give data about themselves freely, I think they may become more conscious about it.”

Riley said the challenge for insurers was being able to effectively use personal information now that more organisations have started to move into that space. 

“We don’t own that domain [of customer information] any more, as personal information is now so widely available. It used to be something that insurers brought to the party," she said.

“Now actually people will tell you lots of things about themselves on Facebook, so lots of that data is no longer our sole domain, so the challenge is how do we stay on top of the ability to use that data and make it count, particularly as other people are now entering our space, with products like Google Advisor, for example. And we’ve seen retailers, not becoming underwriters, but certainly entering into the financial services space, too."

Unstructured data is presenting a huge challenge for the industry, she said: “We as insurers have to ensure we use all the expertise we have to understand how to utilise that data so we can continue to make it count in our products, propositions and customer service. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity because we are good at it, but it is a challenge because of the sheer explosion of it.”


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