In the wake of revelations about the National Security Agency collecting phone records, monitoring online traffic, and tracking card purchases, there has been a debate about the role of privacy in the digital age. The debate seems to have been shaped up around the statement that “if you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t about your information being tracked.” Yet, this argument is wrong-headed because it assumes that everything people want to hide is sinister.
However, thinking this through in more depth, there are many legitimate reasons why someone might want to make an anonymous payment. Three interesting reasons are avoiding marketing, preventing a data breach, and preserving the surprise of a gift. In a Viewpoint, Mercator Advisory Group explores this aspect of privacy and shows how there may be a business case for collecting less data about a company’s clients.