Whether you are a business or an individual, data privacy is a concern for all of us and cyber-security is of utmost importance for businesses right now. The induction of California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a general indication of the constantly evolving privacy landscape and stricter regulations on data privacy. With the ongoing pandemic, most companies have switched to digital to support their remote work environments which have reinvigorated conversations on privacy and data protection. To ensure the protection of consumer data, governments across the world are updating their privacy laws and legislation. This has left companies playing catch up to stay on top of all these changes.
For marketers, privacy laws have been challenging as it limits their ability to personalise the marketing content for their target audience. Personalisation is a demand of every new age customer; without proper consumer data, it becomes difficult for marketers to create personalised micro-marketing campaigns that attract the right kind of customers to their business. For businesses to gain customer trust and loyalty, they need to show a commitment to cyber-security and ethical handling of customer’s data. Instances like Cambridge Analytica, the Facebook database leak, and the Instagram breach have set users’ teeth on edge and it’s not helping build public trust. Truth is, no matter how big or small your company is, data in this digital age is never secure. But, what companies and consumers can do is proactively practice preventive security measures to stay ahead of the hackers.
Public awareness and data protection
Public awareness is very important to ensure the safety of personal data. Although data breaches have been happening for a very long time, I think Cambridge Analytica was a watershed moment that opened the eyes of the public about the impact of data leaks in our everyday lives. The incident also brought to light the cavalier attitudes of tech giants towards consumers’ data. The establishment of GDPR and CCPA is meant to prevent shambles of such magnitude from ever happening again. These legislative bodies give back control to the consumers over the extent and sort of personal information that big data companies (and small companies too) can collect as well as holding culprits accountable for infractions.
Consumer attitudes are changing. 25% of consumers worry that their personal information isn’t safe.
This consciousness arises from the record number of identity theft and data breaches such as email or credit card fraud worldwide. Consumers have become increasingly vigilant about how B2C companies and their partners use their data. A common action that internet users follow is to delete website cookies. Deleting cookies prevents businesses from collecting users browsing history and digital footprints.
How companies are adapting themselves to changes in policy?
The changing digital behaviour of consumers combined with strict legislative rules means businesses had to adapt how they collect and use personal data. To comply with the rules, marketers have introduced web forms that allow customers to consent or deny adding them to mailing lists or newsletters; also websites have dedicated pages where users can submit requests to delete or modify their personal information that is collected by companies. These changes are necessary to avoid being fined heavily by organizations like GDPR. I am confident that no one would like to be in the hot waters like Facebook when it got slapped with multiple fines for non-compliance by GDPR which amounted to millions of dollars each time.
Here are preemptive measures that your company must take to ensure the safety of your consumer data and compliance of local and global laws:
- Request for data that you need– For the longest time, big data companies have been collecting copious amounts of data from unsuspecting customers without consent. The disclosure of unethical collection and usage of personal information did not boost consumer confidence. It eroded their confidence. To keep your customers and their data safe, collect only necessary information which is relevant to your business. It might be tempting to gather the client’s entire history but if basic personal and contact information suffices then that’s what you must stick to.
- Secure all monetary and data transactions– With bank fraud on the rise, businesses need to ensure that monetary transactions are always secure. Sensitive data should not be sent via regular email. That makes it more vulnerable to hacking. A secure upload link is a better way to send sensitive data to recipients.
- Use analytics and automation– Analytical tools can help teams to prevent human errors when dealing with massive amounts of legal data protection rules and regulations. On the other hand, automation can help marketers to collect, segregate, and store consumer data accurately in different categories and identify infractions as well. Automation of the process helps save resources and time while freeing up managers to deal with more complex customer inquiries.
- Invest in a legal team– To always be on the safer side of the law, having a legal team on-board might be the right call. Non-compliance fees are skyrocketing. For small businesses, being obligated to pay these fines may mean financial ruin. So to protect the company and to ensure that you are within your legal boundaries I would suggest that you invest in a legal team.
- Be transparent with your customers– If you personalise your content to target your prospects and consumers, then you will need data for that. Be transparent with your customers about what information you are collecting from the, why are you collecting them, how are you going to utilise this information, and who else has access to this information. Transparency will help gain customer trust and enhance brand loyalty. Demonstrating a commitment to security is the key to creating a positive brand image.
- Select the partners carefully– Third-party data is used by companies extensively to segment their target market, gain insights into consumer behaviour, and to mould buyer personas that fuel marketing and other strategies. It’s important to select your data partners carefully to ensure that the data was collected ethically and legally. You must demand transparency from your partners in their methodology, processes, and management of data and how the data was gathered. You must track and analyse how the consumer data shared by and with your partners are being used. It is a moral and ethical obligation that you must fulfil to protect your customers.