The case for transparency in data collection

The case for transparency in data collection

Companies that commit to data transparency will be equipped to manage tomorrow’s compliance requirements and invest in their customer relationships.

No matter where you turn, data privacy seems to be the hot topic. Amid changing California regulations, proposed federal data privacy legislation, and new state laws in Colorado, Connecticut, Virginia, and Utah, data professionals are considering and strengthen data governance programs to avoid fines and litigation. However, this may not be enough.

The data services industry must embrace transparency to survive in a regulated environment and meet the privacy expectations of increasingly sophisticated consumers. Data organizations that successfully embrace and promote data transparency will benefit from the kind of brand loyalty that drives revenue and sustainable business. Yet navigating the ever-changing patchwork of state laws to provide consumers with the transparency and control they demand remains an ongoing challenge.

Set Data Transparency

Perhaps the term data transparency is too imprecise. It’s the kind of concept that can be left to interpretation and all too easily become lip service unsupported by action. For data professionals, and for the sake of this article, we focus on transparency around data collection: if and how organizations disclose how consumer data is collected and used, who has access to it, and how much. of time the company stores this data.

Consumers expect companies to take their privacy seriously. Although they prefer personalized digital experiences, most Americans say they are at least somewhat concerned about how their data is being used. Yet many companies still fail to institutionalize and/or communicate their data policies. When they do, it is not uncommon for the spirit of the policy to get lost in legalese and fine print. Consider website cookie consent banners. At their most basic level, they are a transparency tool designed to quickly and clearly inform visitors of a site’s cookie policy and allow users to control their preferences. Who among us can say that we don’t instinctively bypass them at the first opportunity?

Other popular data transparency tools include opt-in fields, which can fall victim to deceptive and manipulative language by well-meaning marketers, and links to terms of service pages with policies. privacy notices – which are almost always relegated to the footer of a website or email.

The relationship between consumers and data transparency (or, in some cases, lack of transparency) is not unique to Internet marketing. Parallels can be drawn between online data transparency and the methods used for years by retailer loyalty programs. Long before the Internet, signing up for a loyalty program gave the issuer access to a consumer’s personal spending habits, geographic data about their spending, and other personal data – and consumers rarely read the fine print of their contracts.

The reality is that reading and taking the time to digest privacy policies is a huge ask, especially in the context of the internet, which has become synonymous with instant gratification. A study found that it takes over 200 hours – more than a typical work month – to read word-for-word the average privacy policy on the websites we visit each year.

While a fun statistic, most consumers have no idea what they’re saying yes to when logging into apps or agreeing to a website’s terms of service. They are blissfully unaware of how companies use consumer data to test marketing campaigns, improve the customer journey, or share it with third parties. At the same time, and perhaps as a result, there is increasing pressure from regulators and legislators to require applications, websites and online services to be increasingly transparent, in order to clearly explain how data consumers are used.

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