Sound Data Collection Practices for Respecting Consumer Privacy

How can your organizations set itself apart in a world of diminishing online privacy?

Kristina Podnar
April 4, 2017

Over the past several weeks there has been a lot of discussion around digital privacy, most notably with Congress voting to erase broadband privacy protections  and Google Home introducing ads  to unsuspecting consumers. The demise of online privacy and dwindling of personal data protections are nothing new, as many businesses increasingly push the boundaries in search of additional marketplace. However, in the process of attempting to gain competitive advantage through the use of digital, organizations are forgetting that consumer loyalty relies on a relationship of trust. Trust is built by delivering sound products and services, as well respecting consumers and what is important to them—like privacy.

How should organizations set themselves apart in a world of diminishing online privacy, where 91% of adults feel that consumers have lost control over how often personal information is collected and used by companies? Take the following actions with regard to your digital data collection practices:

– Consider the purpose for which your business is collecting private information from prospects and consumers, and whether it is really necessary.

– Determine the type, frequency and granularity of information you are collecting and whether it is the least amount possible without sacrificing the ability to provide customers with a product or service.

– Confirm that you have a plain language data collection policy that informs prospects and consumers of your data collection practices, how long the information is maintained, how it is used, when it is shared, and whether it is associated with their name. Note that the policy should be reviewed and updated whenever there is a change in your digital practices.

– Adopt mechanisms for prospects and consumers to have their personal data deleted from your systems upon request, inclusive of children.

– Weigh the benefits and risks of sharing and selling prospect or consumer data with third parties and advertisers. It may be tempting to sacrifice the user trust in the short term, but consider the long-term reputation and economic gains of foregoing the sharing of user data.

– Review and regularly validate security and protection mechanisms used to store user personal data, not only within your organization’s storage systems, but also within the cloud or contracted vendor enterprises.

While consumers may not be delighted that online privacy is increasingly rare, they will likely be more comfortable with the trade-off if you are rightsizing your data collection practices to their needs and adopting sound ethical and business practices. That approach will not only gain you trust, but set you apart from the competition.

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