Data Privacy Day: Your Customers Care About Privacy

data privacy dayIt’s Data Privacy Day. Do you know what your customers think about the way you collect their data?

January 28, 2016, marks the ninth annual Data Privacy Day, an international event that hopes to create awareness around data privacy and the importance of protecting your personal information – or that of your employees or customers. (In Europe, they’re celebrating Data Protection Day.) It’s led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NSCA) its theme is “Respecting Privacy, Safeguarding Data and Enabling Trust.”

That sounds like something most businesses would want to get behind.

But according to the TRUSTe/National Cyber Security Alliance U.S. Consumer Privacy Index, only 56 percent of consumers trust businesses with their personal information online.

The survey finds that 74 percent of respondents restricted their online activity in the past year due to privacy concerns. More than half refrained from clicking on an online ad, 44 percent withheld personal information and 28 percent stopped an online transaction. Why? Forty-seven percent of those people said that it was because they were asked to provide too much information.

“Consumer privacy concern is real and rising and businesses need to act now to rebuild trust with their customers before it hurts the bottom line through lost clicks, downloads and sales. With three out of four Americans who worry about their privacy modifying their online activity last year due to privacy concerns, this research shows privacy is not just good practice it is simply good business,” says Chris Babel, CEO TRUSTe. 

What can you be doing to make sure your customers trust that you’re protecting their privacy?

Transparency is key, the survey finds. Customers want to know how data is collected, used and shared, and they want tools to manage their privacy online. Forty-six percent of respondents felt like that lost control of personal information they provided online, but 38 percent said that if companies had clear procedures for removing personal information, they’d have more trust in them. Organizations need to have visible privacy policies, and make sure they stick to them.

In addition to transparent policies, companies should not be storing any data that they don’t need to keep.

“There’s a lot of inadvertent big data collection where companies log everything because they have the mentality the data will come in handy one day. In effect, every customer is under surveillance by default,” Steve Wilson, a Principal Analyst with Constellation Research, recently told RSA Conference. Customer experiences could perhaps be improved if companies instead practiced the discipline of “small data.”

It’s important to reassure customers that you’re only collecting the data you need, and that you’re taking good care of it.

“Consumers are increasingly aware, interested and concerned about their privacy and they’re acting on it,” says Michael Kaiser, Executive Director of the NCSA. “Personal information – just like money – has great value and thus, should be protected.” 

Posted on January 28, 2016

Jennifer Lawinski

by Jennifer Lawinski

Editor-In-Chief, RSA Conference

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