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The Internet Isn’t Free

by Jenny Sussin  |  December 4, 2015  |  2 Comments

I’ve recently embarked on a new line of research (for me, not for the world) on customer data privacy. In doing so, I’ve read synthesized versions of about 20 reports, watched some documentaries and have looked into some of the commentary on ridiculously long terms of service. What it all leads up to is the importance for the average person to realize this: the internet isn’t free.

Jenny Buck

It costs Jenny Bucks…

I know some of you are thinking, “I pay a huge cable/internet bill each month, I know it isn’t free;” but realistically you’re paying for the infrastructure – not the content.

So content creators and hosts like Google, Facebook and Amazon take payment from you in data. Data which helps them sell better advertising or serve up recommendations that will keep you on their site to consume more information/produce more data or buy something. Your data is their money maker…which sounds a lot like what my colleague Doug Laney has been saying for years about “infonomics” and eerily similar to that time RadioShack wanted to sell its customer data.

I’m not saying this is fair, but I am saying that it is less unfair than most people make it out to be.¬†From a privacy perspective, 80% of 20 to 40 year old adults in the US and UK have it right: total privacy in the digital age is a thing of the past.

Gartner clients looking to learn more can look for our research on customer privacy in 2016 and check out this Maverick research from my colleague Brian Iverson, “The Unbearable Cost of Privacy.”

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Category: internet  privacy  security  

Tags: customer  data  internet  privacy  security  web  

Jenny Sussin
Managing VP
7 years with Gartner
8 years IT industry

Jenny Sussin is a Managing Vice President for CX and Sales Research. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on The Internet Isn’t Free

  1. Anon says:

    So speaking of transparency and privacy, which vendors paid you and how much to publish this article among others? Don’t be shy now!

    • Jenny says:

      I’ve been toying with whether or not to respond to this, but I think that the anonymous poster here will likely anonymously post somewhere else that I delete comments on my blog if I do.

      As this is something I advise our clients on, I’ll try to lead by example. Aggressive accusations rarely warrant a strong reply as their anonymous authors have often done the work for us.

      That said, if you have direct concern with my objectivity, which is firmly in place, I do invite you to email me directly at with the caveat being you need to use a real name and email address. Fair is fair.

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