Not All Privacy Affects Marketing … or Does It?

Web privacyI don’t know about you, but every day I get an inbox full of privacy articles and newsletters from clipping services, subscriptions and colleagues. Because the number of articles is overwhelming, I use a non-scientific process for choosing what to read. I discard anything pertaining to the Internet of Things (IoT), wearable devices, government access to data and privacy news from countries outside the US, EU and Canada. After filtering my email, I scan about a quarter of what I receive. This is still a time consuming activity.

I was discussing this practice with a colleague recently and he made an interesting point — the issues of consumer privacy are converging. Each new category of consumer data, new use, new privacy practice, principle or regulation will eventually have an impact on all of us. So what are we missing in those articles we aren’t reading?

• Industries involved in the Internet of Things (IoT), like Utilities, are beginning to develop voluntary codes of conduct on the collection and use of consumer data. While this seems like a positive thing, there are many industries involved in the IoT, and if each one develops a set of principles, it could become unwieldy. It’s more likely that a standard will evolve and currently that standard includes notice of collection, choice, access and notice of security measures. As marketers, we have embraced notice and choice but are we ready for access? Our legacy systems have been a barrier to access but, not only is this idea not going away, it is gaining traction in emerging data industries.

Security of consumer data is something most marketers have addressed in their infrastructure but not in their notice of collection. This is a complicated issue since any conflict between what you say you do and what you actually do would leave you open to FTC or legal action.

• IoT is also wrestling with the idea of data ownership. Car manufacturers reference the data they collect in two categories: manufacturer’s data and personal data. They claim ownership of the manufacturer’s data but concede ownership of the personal data to the consumer. While marketers give consumers the option to opt out of the use of their data, ownership is a more difficult concept. It will be interesting to see where the car manufacturers go with this.


Gwenn Freeman is a privacy strategist for KBM Group, a marketing solutions provider based in Richardson, Texas.
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