A version of this post appeared on Edelman Digital.
Acting on privacy concerns is a necessity in today’s world. For the past few years, the technology sector has been the most trusted by both the informed and general population overall, but, in 2018, trust in technology showed a decrease worldwide. This fact is directly linked to the questions surrounding the use of consumer trend data and even personally identifiable information (PII). The most recent Edelman Trust Barometer shows that safeguarding privacy is a top trust-building mandate. Furthermore, in markets with extreme trust losses in the past year, protecting consumers and their privacy must be priorities in order to regain trust.
Concerns tied to how companies and organizations use the breadth of consumer data collected online are nothing new, but lately, privacy has been thrust into the spotlight. Current events, including the fallout around Cambridge Analytica, have created a new level of anxiety for business, the media and consumers. As a result, data privacy and security have become top regulatory priorities as evident by the European Commission’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and a pending ballot initiative in California (California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018).
Unfortunately, many marketers and communicators wait too long to bring their respective privacy officers or outside privacy counsel into the strategic planning process – a key to abating privacy issues. Following numerous conversations with several privacy officers across a variety of industries, nearly all expressed some concern they are not as informed as they should be about communications programs that involve PII. Marketers are often quick to utilize and benefit from the wealth of consumer data now available through various digital and social channels, but commonly delay privacy and security reviews until campaigns and programs are already live. This delayed involvement can blindside the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) as well as the privacy office and lead to potential additional costs and angst for teams involved when non-compliance is exposed.
The stakes are too high for marketers to continue in this way from both a reputational perspective as well as cost. This is particularly true under the new world of GDPR where an organization may be fined the greater of EU20 million or four percent of annual global revenue. Moving forward, marketers need to become symbiotic partners with privacy teams. Good privacy practices are great for business and best for consumers, brands, marketers and communicators.
Dan Webber is general manager, Corporate & Advisory Services, Washington, D.C.