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Consumer Brain Imaging : A Boon Or Bane From The Eyes Of Neuroethics?

By buying products that seem to elevate comfort to a next level, people’s delicately private information has been manipulated and misused by marketers for the purpose of expanding their businesses.

Ever happened that you became excited at the launch of the Iphone 13 Pro Max or a new McDonalds’ deal that just seems to be perfect? We’ve all been there, and almost every time; as if something long craved has been satisfied.

By buying products that seem to elevate comfort to a next level, people’s delicately private information has been manipulated and misused by marketers for the purpose of expanding their businesses. The things that give us luxurious experiences have cost us our privacy, one the most basic and important of human rights.
Undoubtedly, these are the times of information, which is more precious to the marketing world than the revenue itself. To breach consumer privacy online or offline, is the new vogue.

According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC), when people visit a marketing website, 99 out 100 online companies collect private information. Moreover, when in June 2000, Toysmart.com was bankrupt, company is said to have credited its customer information list as the most important thing. Companies monitor people’s behavior and consumer purchasing history through online activity. Although online and offline marketing world seem to invade people’s privacy inconspicuously, yet consumers, and especially researchers, are becoming aware of the incessant violation of their privacy rights carried out by companies. Many researcher working on the same, Akshat Jain, Research scholar at IIT Delhi is working in the field of Consumer Neuroscience.

As the world is treading the path of technological revolution as well as improved ways of thinking, it is becoming a priority by marketing agencies to collect as much information about people’s thought processes, decision making behavior and purchasing priorities as possible. Apparently, the advertisements spotlight the consumer-friendly aspect of their businesses, but their monopoly is to generate large sums of revenue and maximize their selling. To serve the people is their afterthought.

Neuromarketing, which is the study of neural processes that gives insight into the consumer behavior when it comes to purchasing a product, has helped the marketing world to manufacture products that people most certainly buy. This has not only provided the valuable and concrete data but also sidelined the decision-making based simply on reason. This concrete data, leaving no facets unturned, provides with the exact points to hit that consumer becomes unable to resist. For instance, when it comes to Coca-Cola, irresistible to the satiated users, the mechanism of monitoring of facial expression, eye movement, and the excitement factors have been witnessed and recorded. So, the monitoring strategies used by marketers are relevant to the brand and the product itself and are not universal.

Insane amounts of data collection have led the world to a point where privacy of the people is not being respected; in fact, contravened to a lot deeper and dangerous level. This violation needs to be taken seriously by the policy makers and authorities around the world. There is a need to tackle this issue legislatively. Although, there are laws available and even privacy protected platforms like escrow services for people who want to ensure proactive privacy, but the problem is that the implementation is not being insured. Also, not many people are aware of online protection services. However, there is a need for laws that bring modern solutions to modern problems like privacy to be made and implemented strictly.

To conclude, in this materialistic world where currency and funds seem to be the only god, delicate information to manipulate people into buying products by tracking their mental processes is a misconduct by online/offline companies that strictly needs to end. Policy makers seriously need to ponder upon this issue and come with legislative and technological solutions that not only protect people from being misused but also present viable solutions to their privacy concerns.

  

(Akshat Jain is a research scholar in Neuroscience and Psychology discipline at IIT Delhi's . He is indeed a writer, columnist and a blogger. He has written books, articles, and white papers on an array of subjects and genres. His most recent book, "My Illusion, My Mistake," was dedicated to forty families affected by the Pulwama attack.)
 

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