January 28 is National Data Privacy Day. Each year, this day serves as an opportunity to ponder just how much the world of data privacy has changed in the last year and think ahead to how much more it could change in the upcoming 12 months. Data privacy has become much more than a buzzword. It is now a requirement for every marketing leader and business owner.
In recent times, we’ve seen some major developments in the push to preserve data privacy. Google announced it will remove cookies from its platforms in 2023. Facebook has begun to reconsider its policies amidst scrutiny from Congress and the broader public. Apple, also, has reconstructed its privacy protections, giving users more control over how their data is used on their devices.
We’ve also begun to see governments, both at the federal and state level, look to protect the privacy of their constituents. The California legislature expanded its consumer privacy laws, going into effect in January 2023, to put the state more in line with European GDPR regulations. If your business has customers or potential customers in California, this legislation will affect you. Just recently, Congress introduced legislation seeking to regulate the ways in which advertisers use data to target consumers.
Legislative action is a popular pursuit. Morning Consult and Politico recently reported that 56% of US voters would support federal data privacy and protection laws. Even if the bill that Congress is currently considering does not pass, it’s almost certain that there will be similar legislation in the near future. At the very least, it’s likely that businesses will have to inform online users that they are collecting data, give them the option to opt out and provide them with the information collected.
Data privacy practices are more than just compliance. They are vital to protecting and preserving consumer confidence. With so many changes on the horizon, 2022 is a year in which marketers, advertisers and business owners need to take data privacy seriously. With that in mind, here are a few beginning steps which business leaders can take to make ethical data practices a reality in their organizations.
1. Educate your entire company on data privacy.
Gone are the days where a database manager is the sole agent in a data privacy effort. Data affects every aspect of a modern business. Therefore, every person in the business, from a c-suite executive to a client-facing employee, should be educated on how your business maintains consumer privacy and uses data ethically.
What are the main ideas you need to communicate? Transparency and permission. You need to be transparent about how you use data. You also want to receive permission before collecting personal data. These two values and their widespread dissemination amongst your business will protect you in the long run.
2. Implement a data minimization strategy.
The quality of data your company possesses is much more important than the quantity of data. Now is the time to stop data hoarding and begin to only collect and retain the data which your company needs. An estimated 80% of data that businesses store is considered unusable and unnecessary. This means that your business has a lot of data it needs to let go! Through implementing a data minimization strategy, your business ensures that it only collects the data it needs in order to deliver a quality and personalized user experience. In doing so, you protect the privacy of your consumers.
3. Anticipate and avoid inequitable outcomes.
Data is just data. It takes human agency to collect and interpret your organization’s data. Even the most careful and well-intentioned organizations can cause harm if they do not collect and interpret their data ethically. You need to be aware of any imbalances in data collection. These could present harmful biases across race, gender, age and other demographic categories. Any data-driven decisions your company makes should keep these in mind.
4. Educate consumers on data privacy.
The reality of our modern moment is that many consumers are scared of having their privacy invaded. If your business uses data on a regular basis, you probably believe that data creates better outcomes for both you and your customers. Your business needs to be able to communicate to your customers the benefits of data exchange. Your data usage should create a better and more personalized product for your customer. Let the customer know! Educating consumers on the benefits of data exchange is crucial to dissuading fear and encouraging confidence.
Let’s Build a Better Digital World Together
Implementing these steps in your data privacy strategy will give your business an edge. Not only will you inspire consumer confidence, but you’ll also be more prepared for any policy changes that big tech or government agencies throw at you. Let 2022 be the beginning of a new, more ethical road forward in your organization’s data practices. Let’s join together to build a better digital world.