Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Degree Level





Miles, Rebecca

Committee Member/Reader

Trivitt, Julie


The modern world leverages technology and information captured by it in ways the inventors of these technologies likely never imagined. Phones and other devices are gathering information about consumers in the background when they do not even realize it. Pew Research Center found that about 77% of Americans own a smartphone and 88% use the internet. This mass access to technology and information tracking raises many privacy concerns. Basic demographic information is being tracked as well as more in-depth information like shopping tendencies, financial information, and information about known associates. While most of this data is being used for marketing and other functional purposes, the question is raised if the information is truly secure and only in the hands of the companies that consumers give it to. With consumers readily giving out personal information and also biometric data (such as fingerprint and Face ID) freely to companies like Apple, it makes some consumers worry about how safely their information is being guarded. Consumers are also worried as artificial intelligence becomes mainstream with products like Google Home and Amazon Echo embedded into the average consumer’s home. Some people may not realize the risks of data collection and the importance of regulation in mitigating those risks. This paper will paint a better picture of the issue and educate consumers so that they are informed when they go online and when they vote. Today, consumers are overwhelmed with legal disclosures and technical information on the subject and this paper will make the vast amount of knowledge digestible and easy to read.

A better understanding of the risks will hopefully convince consumers that the issue is important enough to get them to change their privacy settings and to vote for congressmen who want data privacy regulation. This paper does not serve to warn against targeted marketing and having personalized ads. Instead it warns consumers about not knowing the full range of uses of their data. Whether their data is being shared with third parties, used for ulterior purposes, or is not secure in databases, consumers need to know. With regulation, companies will be held more accountable and will have to treat consumer data with more care and put in more safety precautions to prevent theft or hacking.

Regulation may seem daunting or unnecessary, and with any new regulation there will be naysayers, but hopefully most will see the benefit and public good. For example, it was not until the 1950s that seat belts in automobiles started being included by the manufacturer. They were not even required to be installed until 1968. However, the mandated use of seatbelts for drivers was not enforced until each state made their own laws on the matter. In 1984, New York was the first state to make a seat belt law requiring drivers to use them. Over the following 11 years, almost all of the other states created seat belt laws of their own. This issue was initially met with indifference and drivers did not see a need to wear the belts. Over time, data has proven the effectiveness and lifesaving benefits that seat belts provide. Over half of people today that die from car crashes are people that did not have on their seat belts (CDC: Motor Vehicles Safety, 2011). Seat belts and other vehicle safety measures and regulations are the reason why driving is much safer today than it was over 40 years ago (The History of Seat Belts, 2019).

While some may not see the need for data privacy regulations today, they may see them in the years to come. Will the number of data breaches be lower with regulation? Will consumer information be more secure? These questions will only be answered with regulation. Hopefully, with regulation consumers will see evidence in the need for privacy regulations in the number of data breaches lowering and more transparency in data usage.

This report will examine the following topics: (1) the trust consumers have in the companies they give information to; (2) what information is being collected and what are companies doing with it; (3) what can happen when data is in the wrong hands; (4) companies attitudes towards data privacy; and (5) current regulation on consumer data privacy. The purpose of this thesis project is to collect information available on the subjects and to create a digestible summary for the everyday consumer to easily read and understand. The problem currently is there is so much information available, but it is spread all over the internet with no clear connections. This paper will connect the information to educate the consumer and show them the importance in protecting their data and voting for legislation to regulate privacy in corporate use of personal data.


data privacy, advertising, GDPR, CCPA, privacy law, consumer privacy