The bizarre line between privacy and personalization

The level of personalization online has never been higher. The internet has become much more convenient to navigate, from highly targeted ads to Google Search results that seem to read your mind. 

However, it is also a question of whether this personalized does not overstep some boundaries we hope to be expected. For instance, users might like their health-related data not to be used for targeting them with ads. Unfortunately, the situation suggests that such occurrences do happen. 

So, even though personalization seems convenient, it requires access to your personal data. It is where the thin line between privacy and personalization exists.

Personalization and privacy

Personalization comes at the price of privacy. While most of the data used for advertising and marketing purposes gets anonymized, deanonymizing data is easier than expected. After all, huge datasets of random data about us can suggest enough to reveal our identity. 


If you are a daily internet user, you must have seen ads relating to your interest on the web. The way these ads are targeted to you comes under personalization. Company websites collect your data, such as browsing history, accessed websites, purchased products, etc., to create a profile and target ads based on that.


The term privacy takes on the user’s ability to check what data is used. Moreover, it also allows them to control the access to that data. A privacy-centered user can keep a close check on their data and manipulate their access rights.

The thin line

As users like personalization, they must give away some of their data. But if that data is sold to third parties for targeting purposes, it may not be an ethical use of it. However, most users agree to this via privacy policies. Thousands of users skip these documents, and their complexity might be one of the reasons. 

To keep up with the competition, businesses collect more and more data about customers. The problem is that they may not always be transparent about it. They may sell this data to other companies or use it for their own benefit without customers’ consent. It is where privacy comes into play, giving users control over their data. Many legal documents hope to solve such issues, forcing companies to require clear-cut consent from their users. 

What regulations are there for data privacy?

As users become more aware of their data and its usage, various regulators and brands are trying to curb privacy issues. Apple provides its users with the ability to control data access. Apple users can selectively choose what data will be shared with the retailers and what won’t be.

On top of that, General Data Protection Regulation and California Consumer Privacy Act are making efforts to allow users to control data as per their preference. Other than that, many other responsible companies make customers aware of their shared data.

How can companies stay on the fine line between personalization and privacy?

Some modern-day firms may not be aware of how to balance these two concepts. Make no mistake, you need to balance between them, or the consequences could be harsh. Facebook ended up paying a heavy fine for its involvement in the Cambridge Analytica Privacy Scandal.

Here are some key pointers:

  • Consent. Tell users that you are accessing their data and what their consent means.
  • Control. Allow the users to change or entirely restrict access to data.
  • Transparency. Tell the users how you know about them and how you got the data.
  • Technology. Keep the data acquisition, storage, processing, and security tools updated.

Can users do something about this?

So, what options do users have? First, it is their responsibility to read all documents explaining how a specific company will use their data. It might require time. However, it will be worthwhile in the long run. 

Additionally, users can choose companies that are known to provide more options for preserving their privacy. That includes search engines, browsers, email providers, and even instant messaging apps

In other cases, you should look over the applications you already use. In many cases, they will include settings for disabling targeted ads. There might be more options, like stopping location tracking. It is best to find the best account settings for every digital service you use. 

Some tools are also specifically designed for making you more private and anonymous online. For instance, each digital action leaves a trace. Some of it is automatic, meaning you never notice it. 

Your IP address is one of the identifiers you share automatically. Tools like Virtual Private Networks help users hide this element. How? Well, connecting to VPN servers means that users get a new IP address, pinpointing regions users select. Thus, after a VPN download and setup, you won’t reveal your location if you do not want to do that. 


The two concepts may seem similar, but they are not. There is a slight difference between the two, and that’s what you require to comprehend to get the most out of your business. Moreover, it will also be helpful in keeping you out of legal trouble.

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