Compliance with privacy regulations is important. But ethically managing data goes beyond that.
“We’re in the middle of a massive change in the data privacy landscape that is forcing companies to rethink how they work,” said Priscilla Debar, Acoustic’s Associate General Counsel, at our recent MarTech conference. “Is your brand keeping pace with these changes?”
Marketers have to work closely with their company’s legal advisors in order to maintain trust with customers when so many people are concerned with the way their data is being used by brands. “The game ultimately is about fostering the relationship between your brand and your customers that is built on trust,” Debar said .
And of course there are also legal reasons why marketers have to be advised by their law colleagues, when so many new regulations have been put in place in recent years.
Stay on top of compliance
With campaigns deploying across so many digital channels, marketers are aggregating more and more data, which means they have to also stay on top of privacy compliance.
“Think about social media, online shopping, content, streaming, banking or even healthcare,” said Debar. “All these day-to-day activities involve the sharing of our personal data with companies. As more data is being collected and more organizations have access to it, it becomes important to have robust data protection laws to ensure that we as consumers are not only aware and consent to the sharing of our personal information, but also that our information is handled with the appropriate level of care and accountability.”
Privacy laws in Europe and in some U.S. states (the EU’s GDPR, California’s CCPA) are making data sharing and usage more regulated. California is also creating the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA), which will be in force in 2023 and actively audit and fine non-compliant businesses. A bill for a federal Safe Data Act was filed in the U.S. Senate in July.
“The goal is to give consumers control over their personal data that is collected and processed by U.S. businesses,” said Debar. “The bill requires companies to publish privacy policies, designate privacy and data security officers, and provide correct data or delete consumer data within 90 days of their requests to do so.”
She added that multinational companies have the added complexity of making sure they comply with local laws in the countries in which they operate.
Ethical data use goes beyond legal data use
Legal hurdles can’t be the only standard for marketers, however. Customers demand that businesses go above and beyond the minimum. Even giants like Apple and Google have gotten out ahead of the laws by changing the way data is collected within their operating systems, or announcing their plan to do so in the near future.
“Consumers want more transparency and are demanding more control over how their data is collected, where it is kept, for what purpose it is used and how it may be shared,” Debar explained. “An ethical approach when it comes to personal data handling is something increasingly important and something brands who want to stay competitive need to prepare for.”
She added, “Data ethics is also about respecting consumers and customers wishes, even if this means going beyond what the law requires. The changing landscape means we need to think differently about people and processes,” said Debar.
Here are some ways to orient your organization toward data ethics:
Hire a Chief Data Ethics Officer. “At Acoustic, we rely on artificial intelligence to power our marketing solutions, so data is a fundamental asset to our company,” said Debar. “It was therefore important for us to show our customers that we were committed to using their data and their own customers’ data responsibly. The role is to ensure the integrity of our data practices beyond simple privacy compliance and instead embrace an expansive view of data privacy.”
Establish your own data ethics principles. “Every company must take a fresh look at their data practices to establish the set of principles that will guide them forward,” said Debar. “An ethics mindset will help you be proactive and be seen as a leader by your industry and customers rather than a follower who simply reacts to each new privacy mandate.
Reevaluate your processes. Apple and Google are taking a proactive approach. “It is too soon to know how effective their measures will be, but it’s clear these brands understand the power of public opinion and have taken steps to build trust with their customers,” said Debar.
Be transparent. “Companies in industries such as retail or food have become subject to global scrutiny as consumer demand for supply chain transparency,” said Debar. “The same pressure to share information is happening in the data space and it has become imperative for brands who want to build trust to be transparent around their data supply chain.”
In order to build trust, your customers want to be a respected partner in how your business uses data, especially their data.
“Think about how you can give consumers insights into how their data is collected, stored, used, shared, and even how you delete the data,” said Debar. “And by doing this you’re demonstrating that nothing wrong is happening behind the scenes.”