In case you missed the memo, January 28th is Data Privacy Day. Or maybe you knew it and blew a big raspberry on the audacity of such a notion. We get it, the personal data we freely submit to companies, from social media to ecommerce, has been misused and abused. And data protection, or the lack thereof, is a hot issue with failures exposed in the media almost daily.
But it is, for those very reasons, that we welcome Data Privacy Day, in the hopes that it will raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices. The importance of keeping users of online services informed and aware of existing data protection challenges and understanding their individual rights and how to exercise them, can’t be overstated.
Consumer data is a big part of the business agenda
We carry the internet in our pockets, with smartphones that give us access to an infinite number of resources, and every kind of information we can imagine. However, many of the companies we enjoy and rely upon include within their business model, the buying, selling, and exchanging of our data and identities to further their business objectives.
This is clearly not part of the consumer’s agenda. Therefore, the companies we impart our information to must be more responsible when they collect, store, and use our data. We dislike being treated as a commodity, and we shouldn’t be exposed to privacy and security risks when we engage with a business online.
The relationship between a business and the consumer’s identity and information for the most part has been a one-way association, where consumers give, and corporations take. It’s beyond time for those organizations to build the consumer trust that is sorely lacking.
Customer data is consumed by businesses who feed it into algorithms that use artificial intelligence to help them better understand our motives, desires, and interests. While it may provide insights that help companies improve their business operations, the safety and privacy of consumer data must be their number one responsibility.
Businesses must be good stewards of customer data
The vast amount of information companies collect provokes us to ask important questions. Did they first ask permission to collect the data? What are they doing with it? Where is the data being kept when the customer no longer has a relationship with them? How accurate is the data? How often do they update it, and how do they keep it updated? Do users even know their data is being collected and used for various business purposes, and shared or sold to third parties?
Businesses must answer these privacy questions and be more transparent about the personally identifiable information (PII) they collect. Users have the legal right to ask for their data and make their own decisions and consent, whether or not they want to control it, and how it can be used.
Regulation is forcing the tide of change
Increasing privacy regulations, like GDPR and CCPA, are forcing companies to pay attention to these issues. It’s not simply a matter of managing data; it requires an understanding of privacy protection. Companies have personal user information spread throughout their organizations, subsidiaries, and business partners. It becomes even more complicated managing data when merging or acquiring companies with the same user information.
With the list of privacy regulations growing every year, here are a few links to CCPA-compliant checklist, GDPR-compliant checklist, and HIPAA-compliant checklist to help you ensure your business is privacy-aware and regulatory compliant.